Byrne, Matter of

CourtNew York Court on the Judiciary
Citation420 N.Y.S.2d 70
Decision Date18 April 1979
PartiesIn the Matter of the Proceedings pursuant to Section 22 of Article 6 of the Constitution of the State of New York in Relation to Thomas J. BYRNE, a Judge of the Town Court, Town of Newburgh, County of Orange, Second Judicial Department.

Page 70

420 N.Y.S.2d 70
In the Matter of the Proceedings pursuant to Section 22 of
Article 6 of the Constitution of the State of New York in
Relation to Thomas J. BYRNE, a Judge of the Town Court, Town
of Newburgh, County of Orange, Second Judicial Department.
Court on the Judiciary.
April 18, 1979.

Page 71

Before BIRNS, P. J., and MAIN, SWEENEY, MOULE and CARDAMONE, JJ.

Respondent, pursuant to Section 580.5 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court on the Judiciary, moves for an order dismissing the charges against him, or, in the alternative, for an order granting discovery, a change of venue and a direction that judicial subpoenas be issued and served on respondent's prospective witnesses.

Respondent is charged with seeking special consideration on behalf of defendants in other courts, and with being influenced by requests for special consideration on behalf of defendants in his court, i. e., of special treatment and favoritism in the disposition of cases.

In Matter of Bolte, 97 App.Div. 551, 574, 90 N.Y.S. 499, 512 (1st Dept. 1904), the Court stated: "Favoritism in the performance of judicial duties constitutes corruption as disastrous in its consequence as if the judicial officer received and was moved by a bribe". This statement, issued approximately 18 years before the original Canons of Judicial Ethics were adopted by the American Bar Association, clearly demonstrates that the type of conduct alleged against respondent constitutes "cause" for discipline because it is wrong, and always has been wrong.

We note that cause for judicial discipline is to be found not only in the guidelines contained in the Canons of Judicial Ethics and the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct of the Administrative Board of the Judicial Conference, but also "in the general moral and ethical standards expected of judicial officers by the community". (Friedman v. State of New York, 24 N.Y.2d 528, 539-40, 301 N.Y.S.2d 484, 494, 249 N.E.2d 369, 376.) The Canons and Rules, insofar as they proscribe conduct which is Malum in se, as opposed to Malum prohibitum, operate to restate those general ethical principles which have always governed judicial conduct.

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Accordingly, a judicial officer who accords or requests special treatment or favoritism to a defendant in his court or another judge's court, is guilty of Malum in se misconduct constituting cause for discipline, and this would be so even if the Canons and Rules which might apply to such misconduct had...

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