ALBANY - A former judge's "life well led" justifies reversing the determination by the Commission on Judicial Conduct that he should be removed from office for having had sexual contact with his 5-year-old niece once in 1972when he was 25 and before he passed the barhis attorney argued yesterday before the state Court of Appeals.
While Bryan Hedges resigned in 2012 as a Family Court judge in Onondaga County amid the commission's investigation and has no desire to be a judge again, his attorney told the Court of Appeals that it is unfair that he be ruined by "distant acts in the mists of time."
"You have a man who's conducted himself with integrity on the bench, a man who served his country admirably in Vietnam," Robert Julian of Utica said. "You have a man who has a lifetime of public service and a public record."
Asked by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (See Profile) what relief Hedges was seeking, Julian said it was to have the sanction of removal rescinded or, even better, its entire determination in the ex-judge's case thrown out.
"Basically, it is to clear the reputation of the judge?" Lippman asked.
"That is correct." Julian responded.
The judicial conduct commission concluded that the girl had entered Hedges' room at her grandmother's house while he was masturbating and touched his hand. It found he continued to masturbate for two to four seconds with her hand on top of his before stopping.
Hedges told the commission he was "half asleep" at the time and immediately stopped when he realized what was happening. He said the girl, who is deaf, touched his hand while she claimed he guided her hand to his (NYLJ, Aug. 23, 2012).
Several of the judges wondered yesterday why Hedges, 66, was appealing the commission's determination if he is willing to stipulate, as Julian said he is, that he will never seek or hold judicial office again.
Julian said Hedges maintains the incident did not occur in precisely the same way the commission said it did and that, four decades after the fact, it is virtually impossible to verify exactly what happened.