Kamins Returning to Bench While Investigation Proceeds

, New York Law Journal


Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins is going back to work next week as a civil court judge in Queens, while a judicial ethics panel investigates allegations that the jurist improperly served as a behind-the-scenes political advisor to embattled former District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes.

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What's being said

  • Ravi Batra

    Barry Kamins has well earned a reputation of being a top notch criminal defense lawyer and his near-intimate relationship with DA Charles "Joe" Hynes makes sense in every way: politically, professionally and socially.

    The NYC DOI Report is near-earth shattering not because then-DA Joe Hynes was running for re-election and engaging in politics - a right he absolutely had and hence could legally talk to anybody he wished - it is that now-Judge Kamins was on the bench and was engaging in rank politics for his 40-year odd very close friend. This has undermined public confidence in the Judiciary and our adversarial system of justice.

    Absent any case-fixing evidence, and none has been asserted to-date, certificated Justice Kamins ought to resign to save his reputational capital as well as prevent a further loss of public confidence in the judiciary and sound prosecutorial judgment. It is undisputed, as Mike Cardozo has said, that any of our clients would get a fair trial before Justice Kamins. It is also obvious that Justice Kamins cannot and will not be re-certificated. So resigning is a pathway for Justice Kamins to be gracious and judicious, as he has always been. He ought not force the Commission on Judicial Conduct to conduct an autopsy of what at its core is indefensible for a sitting judge if the public is to give the needed respect for the Third Branch of government.

    As human beings, all of us can appreciate the value and need for close friends - and Justice Kamins and DA Joe Hynes are no exception. Indeed, FDR, as president would weekly play cards with the United States Supreme Court Justices, even as the High Court was reversing his New Deal laws thus causing the Court Packing offensive by FDR.

    But people of actual, not mere apparent, integrity preserve the separation of powers regime even when sitting privately and playing cards.

    Justice Kamins, a person I respect, ought to resign to restore his own reputation and lower the sizzling "heat" that will cause severe sunburns to our system of justice by his forcing the CJC to continue to exercise jurisdiction. This will also help Barry Kamins and Joe Hynes to become legally close friends.

    Dated: 7/9/14
    Ravi Batra

  • Michael Friedman

    Judge Kamen‘s transgressions are way beyond what the Commission has previously found to be a death sentence for judicial office. Judge Kamens is the former Chair of the Ethics Committee in the 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts and for many years he has been the chairman of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Discipline. Here his colleagues are saying, "Yeah, he did something that disqualifies him from being a judge by anyone‘s standards, but he‘s a really good judge so let him preside." I‘m sure if I stole money from a client or bribed a judge I would not be able to say, "Yeah, I violated the Code, but I‘m a really good lawyer so let me keep practicing." That seems to be the pass he is getting from these people. It is even worse that he was on the ethics committees as he might be held to a higher standard, and one wonders what those who trusted him feel now. Obviously he does not think what he did disqualifies him from presiding over cases, and that alone gives me pause. Is there a separate standard for Administrative Judges in the OCA hierarchy? I hope not. His two year term will be up soon, and hopefully the Commission does not treat him differently from other jurists.

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