This week, the New York Law Journal published a two-part column by ECBA Founder Richard Emery addressing the persistent issue of judges who use the power and prestige of their office to benefit themselves and others.
In part one, Emery discusses the problematic trend of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s decisions on this matter. In his review of recent cases, Emery demonstrates the Commissions’ troubling leniency in disciplining judges using their office for personal benefit. He argues that this inability to properly address and punish this misconduct not only sets a dangerous precedent for judges, but also damages public perceptions of judicial integrity.
In part two, Emery focuses on precedents set by the Court of Appeals in judicial discipline cases. Tracing precedents set in recent decades, Emery ends his review with an encouraging analysis of the Matter of Ayres, a case from this month that signals the Court of Appeals’ increasing lack of tolerance for judge misconduct that threatens the public’s confidence in the judiciary. The decision bolsters Emery’s view that despite the need for some constraints on the investigation and discipline of judges, these individuals must still be bound to the strictest standards of conduct.