Pfingst, Matter of

CourtNew York Court on the Judiciary
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation409 N.Y.S.2d 986
PartiesIn the Matter of the Proceedings Pursuant to Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution of the State of New York in Relation to Joseph P. PFINGST, Justice of the Supreme Court, Tenth Judicial District.
Decision Date29 December 1973

Page 986

409 N.Y.S.2d 986
In the Matter of the Proceedings Pursuant to Section 22 of
Article VI of the Constitution of the State of New York in
Relation to Joseph P. PFINGST, Justice of the Supreme Court,
Tenth Judicial District.
Court on the Judiciary.
Dec. 29, 1973.
Order on Motion for Reconsideration Feb. 20, 1974.

Before FULD, P. J., and BURKE, MARKEWICH, SHAPIRO, STALEY and MOULE, JJ.

OPINION ON REMOVAL

PER CURIAM.

Judge Joseph P. Pfingst (hereafter referred to as the respondent) was elected in 1968 to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court for the Tenth Judicial District for a term of 14 years. In 1972, he was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on charges that in 1966, while he was a practicing lawyer, he fraudulently transferred and concealed corporate assets in contemplation of bankruptcy (U.S.Code, tit. 18, § 152). The crimes charged against him, and of which he was adjudged guilty, are felonies

Page 987

under Federal law, and he was sentenced on each of three counts of a ten-count indictment to imprisonment of a term of three years. 1 The judgment of conviction was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (477 F.2d 177) and a petition for a writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court (412 U.S. 941, 93 S.Ct. 2779, 37 L.Ed.2d 400). 2 Thereafter, on July 3, 1973, the respondent moved for a new trial on the ground that he had discovered information relating to the alleged suppression of evidence by the Government. That motion was denied after a six day hearing and the denial was affirmed by the Second Circuit on December 17, 1973.

Charges of misconduct, based on his conviction, were filed against the respondent in this Court on the Judiciary in May of 1973 and, by order, dated May 7, the court, having made a preliminary finding that the charges stated facts sufficient, if true, to justify his removal, suspended the respondent without pay. In his answer to the charges, the respondent admits that he was convicted of the crimes above referred to and that he was sentenced to imprisonment but denies, on a number of grounds, that such conviction constitutes cause for his removal from office. More specifically, the respondent's answer contains a number of denials and 12 defenses the net effect of which is that he is entitled to relitigate the issue of his guilt that was resolved by his conviction. We find that position untenable. Significantly, the respondent concedes that he has no evidence to offer not available to him upon the trial in the Federal court, nor has he claimed that the witnesses against him had committed perjury or had recanted their testimony (cf. Matter of Keogh, 17 N.Y.2d 479, 266 N.Y.S.2d 984, 214 N.E.2d 163).

The power to remove a Justice of the Supreme Court is vested in the Court on the Judiciary by section 22 of article VI of this State's Constitution; paragraph a of that section provides, insofar as pertinent, that "Any * * * justice of the supreme court * * * may be removed for cause * * * after due notice and a hearing by a court on the judiciary." " Cause," it has previously been held, "is an inclusive, not a narrowly limited term." (Matter of Osterman, 13 N.Y.2d (a), (p), cert. den. 376 U.S. 914, 84 S.Ct. 660, 11 L.Ed.2d 611; see, also, Friedman v. State of New York, 24 N.Y.2d 528, 539-540, 301 N.Y.S.2d 484, 493-494, 249 N.E.2d 369, 376; Matter of Friedman, 12 N.Y.2d (a), (e), app. dsmd. 375 U.S. 10, 84 S.Ct. 70, 11 L.Ed.2d 40; Matter of Sarisohn, 26 A.D.2d 388, 389-390, 275 N.Y.S.2d 355, 357, mot. for lv. to app. den. 19 N.Y.2d 689, 278 N.Y.S.2d 878, 225 N.E.2d 566, cert. den. 393 U.S. 1116, 89 S.Ct. 991, 22 L.Ed.2d 121; Matter of Kane v. Rudich, 256 App.Div. 586, 587, 10 N.Y.S.2d 929, 930; Matter of Newman v. Strobel, 236 App.Div. 371, 259 N.Y.S. 402; cf. State v. Redman, 183 Ind. 332, 339-340, 109 N.E. 184; Ann., 42 ALR 3d 691, 712-719.) It is, of course, " 'impossible to enumerate in any statute all the possible grounds and circumstances justifying the removal of a judicial...

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4 practice notes
  • Fuchsberg, Matter of
    • United States
    • New York Court on the Judiciary
    • March 16, 1978
    ...N.Y. 44, 90 N.E. 340; see, also, Matter of Waltemede, 37 N.Y.2d (a), (iii), 409 N.Y.S.2d 989; Matter of Pfingst, 33 N.Y.2d (a), (ii), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986; Friedman v. State of New York, 24 N.Y.2d 528, 540, 301 N.Y.S.2d 484, 494, 249 N.E.2d 369, 376; Matter of Kane v. Rudich, 256 App.Div. 586, ......
  • Kneifl, In re, No. JQ83-001
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 1, 1984
    ...N.Y.2d 462] at pp. 468-469 [392 N.E.2d 552, 418 N.Y.S.2d 565 (1979) ]; Matter of Pfingst, [N.Y.Ct.Jud.] 33 N.Y.2d [ (a) ] [ii], [kk] [409 N.Y.S.2d 986 (1973) ] ). As the Referee aptly noted, throughout this entire incident petitioner, "although off the bench remained cloaked figurative......
  • Steinberg v. State Commission on Judicial Conduct
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • July 1, 1980
    ...Judicial Conduct, 49 N.Y.2d 465, 469, 426 N.Y.S.2d 461, 463, 403 N.E.2d 167, 168, supra ; see Matter of Pfingst, 33 N.Y.2d (ii), (kk), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986). Here, we have found that petitioner's complete insensitivity to the special ethical obligations of Judges rendered him unfit for judicial......
  • Kuehnel v. State Commission on Judicial Conduct
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (New York)
    • March 18, 1980
    ...47 N.Y.2d at pp. 468-469, 418 N.Y.S.2d at pp. 567-568, 392 N.E.2d at pp. 554-55; Matter of Pfingst, N.Y.Ct.Jud., 33 N.Y.2d(ii), (kk), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986, 988). As the Referee aptly noted, throughout this entire incident petitioner, "although off the bench remained cloaked figuratively, w......
4 cases
  • Fuchsberg, Matter of
    • United States
    • New York Court on the Judiciary
    • March 16, 1978
    ...N.Y. 44, 90 N.E. 340; see, also, Matter of Waltemede, 37 N.Y.2d (a), (iii), 409 N.Y.S.2d 989; Matter of Pfingst, 33 N.Y.2d (a), (ii), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986; Friedman v. State of New York, 24 N.Y.2d 528, 540, 301 N.Y.S.2d 484, 494, 249 N.E.2d 369, 376; Matter of Kane v. Rudich, 256 App.Div. 586, ......
  • Kneifl, In re, No. JQ83-001
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 1, 1984
    ...N.Y.2d 462] at pp. 468-469 [392 N.E.2d 552, 418 N.Y.S.2d 565 (1979) ]; Matter of Pfingst, [N.Y.Ct.Jud.] 33 N.Y.2d [ (a) ] [ii], [kk] [409 N.Y.S.2d 986 (1973) ] ). As the Referee aptly noted, throughout this entire incident petitioner, "although off the bench remained cloaked figuratively, w......
  • Steinberg v. State Commission on Judicial Conduct
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • July 1, 1980
    ...Judicial Conduct, 49 N.Y.2d 465, 469, 426 N.Y.S.2d 461, 463, 403 N.E.2d 167, 168, supra ; see Matter of Pfingst, 33 N.Y.2d (ii), (kk), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986). Here, we have found that petitioner's complete insensitivity to the special ethical obligations of Judges rendered him unfit for judicial......
  • Kuehnel v. State Commission on Judicial Conduct
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • March 18, 1980
    ...47 N.Y.2d at pp. 468-469, 418 N.Y.S.2d at pp. 567-568, 392 N.E.2d at pp. 554-55; Matter of Pfingst, N.Y.Ct.Jud., 33 N.Y.2d(ii), (kk), 409 N.Y.S.2d 986, 988). As the Referee aptly noted, throughout this entire incident petitioner, "although off the bench remained cloaked figuratively, with h......

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