Vaccaro, Matter of

CourtNew York Court on the Judiciary
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; PER CURIAM
Citation409 N.Y.S.2d 1009
Decision Date26 September 1977
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 Frank VACCARO, Justice of the Supreme Court, Second District.

Page 1009

409 N.Y.S.2d 1009
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 Frank VACCARO,
Justice of the Supreme Court,
Second District.
Court on the Judiciary.
Sept. 26, 1977.
Nov. 10, 1977.
OPINION OF THE COURT

Before MARKEWICH, P. J., and MOULE, CARDAMONE, KANE and MAIN, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

On May 11, 1976 a proceeding against respondent, a Justice of the Supreme Court

Page 1010

in the Second Judicial District, was commenced by order of the Court on the Judiciary. Subsequently, a new Court on the Judiciary was appointed to conform to section 22 of article VI of the New York Constitution. The matter was referred to a Referee to conduct a hearing and make findings with respect to the charges against respondent. A hearing was held before the Referee from March 7 through March 29, 1977.

Fourteen acts of judicial misconduct, contained in 11 charges, were alleged by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against respondent. The Referee sustained four of the charges: Charge VIII(a) (the acceptance of a weekend stay at Kutsher's County Club for respondent and his wife paid by the law firm of respondent's long-time close personal friend); Charge VII (registering under the name and address of a partner of that same law firm without that person's permission, thereby concealing respondent's identity); Charge X (failing to disqualify himself from cases in which his law secretary's law partner appeared in respondent's court on behalf of one of the parties); and Charge XI (failing to disqualify himself from presiding over a nonjury Small Claims trial in which his close friend was a party defendant).

Based upon an examination of both the transcript of testimony and Referee's report, we confirm the Referee's findings which were established by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence. As to the charges reported as not sustained, we agree with the Referee that the evidence presented on each was insufficient. Furthermore, we confirm the Referee's procedural rulings and find that respondent was accorded due process throughout. The affirmative defenses are without merit and are dismissed. The interim procedural rulings of the Referee are confirmed. The sole question remaining for our consideration is the sanction to be imposed.

In order to determine the appropriate sanction, it is necessary to examine briefly the confirmed charges. In connection with Charge VIII(a) we note that respondent exercised poor judgment and engaged in injudicious conduct. Although there is no evidence that respondent gave either his long-time friend, Gerald Garson, or his law firm special favor or treatment in any matter before him, despite the long-standing intimate and personal social relationship with his long-time friend, the Referee found that it was injudicious of respondent to spend a weekend with his wife at a hotel as a guest of a law firm because such is beyond the permissible ordinary social hospitality permitted by the Code of Judicial Conduct (Canon 5, subd. C, par. (4), cl. (b)). With respect to Charge VII, it is clear that respondent signed Louis Goldberg's name when registering at Kutsher's at the behest of one of Goldberg's partners. The Referee found, however, that although respondent may not have intended to conceal his identity, he did create the objective impression on the records of the hotel that he was Louis Goldberg which was both injudicious and in violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics (Canons 1, 4, 13).

Charge X related to conferences or settlements in cases where Robert G. Stern, a law partner of respondent's law secretary, appeared before respondent. The Referee found that respondent participated in only a handful of such cases over a three-year period while he was assigned as one part of a "troika" which handled thousands of cases. It must be observed that the settlement procedures...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 practice notes
  • Schultz, Matter of
    • United States
    • New York Court on the Judiciary
    • May 4, 1978
    ...charges which are alleged to have occurred prior to the establishment of the State Commission (see, Matter of Vaccaro, 42 N.Y.2d (a), 409 N.Y.S.2d 1009; Matter of Richter, 42 N.Y.2d (aa), 409 N.Y.S.2d 1013 (Court on the Judiciary, Respondent's motion to dismiss Charges II, IV and V based on......
1 cases
  • Schultz, Matter of
    • United States
    • New York Court on the Judiciary
    • May 4, 1978
    ...charges which are alleged to have occurred prior to the establishment of the State Commission (see, Matter of Vaccaro, 42 N.Y.2d (a), 409 N.Y.S.2d 1009; Matter of Richter, 42 N.Y.2d (aa), 409 N.Y.S.2d 1013 (Court on the Judiciary, Respondent's motion to dismiss Charges II, IV and V based on......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT