Schwerzmann, Matter of

CourtNew York Court on the Judiciary
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation408 N.Y.S.2d 187
Decision Date01 June 1978
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 Leon SCHWERZMANN, Jr., a Judge of the Surrogate's Court, County of Jefferson, Fourth Judicial Department.

Page 187

408 N.Y.S.2d 187
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 Leon SCHWERZMANN, Jr., a Judge of the
Surrogate's Court, County of Jefferson, Fourth Judicial Department.
Court on the Judiciary.
June 1, 1978.

Page 188

PER CURIAM:

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 22, of the New York State Constitution, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals convened this Court, by order dated June 29, 1977, to hear and determine charges concerning the respondent Leon Schwerzmann, Jr., Surrogate of the County of Jefferson.

Respondent has served continuously in his present judicial post for over 24 years. During at least 20 of those years, it has been and continues to be his policy to assist individual members of the public with their legal or personal problems upon request. While such conduct has gained for him the gratitude and support of his community, in some instances it has also created serious problems for litigants and their attorneys. Two complaints involving the activities of Judge Schwerzmann in this regard were brought to the attention of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. In answer to these allegations, Judge Schwerzmann admitted that he did provide free legal advice to the public and further informed that Court in writing that "the instances you mention are only two of literally hundreds in which I have volunteered to assist the public with their legal or personal problems." Additional inquiry and communication with Judge Schwerzmann culminated in a directive by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, that he terminate the rendition of such advice and assistance to the general public. Respondent declined to comply and requested permission to submit the issues presented to the then Temporary Commission on Judicial Conduct. Parenthetically, that body was then conducting its own independent investigation of Judge Schwerzmann based on another yet similar complaint made to it. Thereafter, respondent appeared and testified before the full Commission and, in accordance with its subsequent report and recommendation, this Court ultimately authorized the service of charges upon him alleging judicial misconduct in violation of provisions of the Constitution of the State of New York, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, the Canons of Judicial Ethics and the Code of Judicial Conduct (N.Y.Const., Art. VI, § 20, subd. b, par. (4); 22 NYCRR 33.1, 33.2(a), 33.2(c); Code of Judicial Conduct, Canons 1, 2(A), 2(B), Judiciary Law, Appendix).

The foregoing provisions involve the constitutional ban against the practice of law by members of the judiciary, together with the rules and canons requiring maintenance of the independence of the judiciary and the avoidance of impropriety or the appearance of impropriety by members thereof. Detailed specifications accompanying these charges encompassed three separate occasions...

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2 practice notes
  • Disciplinary Action Against Genz, Matter of, No. 950026
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 27 Julio 1995
    ...and application of state statute prohibiting judge from practicing law, 17 A.L.R.4th 829, at Sec. 9[a] (1982); Matter of Schwerzmann, 408 N.Y.S.2d 187 (N.Y.Ct.Jud.1978); In re Van Susteren, 82 Wis.2d 307, 262 N.W.2d 133 (1978). Cf. Disciplinary Action Against Larson, 485 N.W.2d 345 (N.D.199......
  • Erbacci, Cerone, and Moriarty, Ltd. v. US, No. 96 Civ. 1664 (DNE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 10 Abril 1996
    ...kinds, and in general all advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law." In re Schwerzmann, 408 N.Y.S.2d 187, 189 (App. Div.1978) (internal quotations omitted); see also Spanos, 364 F.2d at In the instant case, Botti's act of making a motion before ......
2 cases
  • Disciplinary Action Against Genz, Matter of, No. 950026
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 27 Julio 1995
    ...and application of state statute prohibiting judge from practicing law, 17 A.L.R.4th 829, at Sec. 9[a] (1982); Matter of Schwerzmann, 408 N.Y.S.2d 187 (N.Y.Ct.Jud.1978); In re Van Susteren, 82 Wis.2d 307, 262 N.W.2d 133 (1978). Cf. Disciplinary Action Against Larson, 485 N.W.2d 345 (N.D.199......
  • Erbacci, Cerone, and Moriarty, Ltd. v. US, No. 96 Civ. 1664 (DNE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 10 Abril 1996
    ...of all kinds, and in general all advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law." In re Schwerzmann, 408 N.Y.S.2d 187, 189 (App. Div.1978) (internal quotations omitted); see also Spanos, 364 F.2d at In the instant case, Botti's act of making a motion befor......

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