Court Orders Removal of Town Court Justice

, New York Law Journal

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The Court of Appeals Tuesday ordered a long-time town court justice from Delaware County be removed from office for dismissing a traffic ticket issued to a friend and for having improper ex parte communications in another matter. The 6-1 court accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct that Glen George be removed after 28 years as Middletown Town Court justice.

The commission said George, who is not a lawyer, violated his obligation to maintain the appearance of impartiality by dismissing a ticket for a seat belt infraction against a friend and for having an ex parte conversation with a man George dissuaded from bringing a small-claims action against another friend of the justice's (NYLJ, May 10).

The court in Matter of George, 249, said George's conduct warranted removal because he was warned in a 2000 Letter of Dismissal and Caution by the commission after he did not recuse himself from several cases involving a friend's daughter-in-law.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (See Profile) and Judges Victoria Graffeo (See Profile), Susan Phillips Read (See Profile), Robert Smith (See Profile), Jenny Rivera (See Profile) and Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) were in the majority.

In dissent, Eugene Pigott Jr. (See Profile) wrote that George's misconduct concerned relatively minor matters and that his long record of public service—he was a state trooper for 20 years before becoming a town justice—merited admonishment, not removal. Pigott called the commission's recommendation "churlish and overreaching."

George was to have retired at the end of December prior to his removal. Thomas Petro of Kingston defended George. Commission counsel Edward Lindner argued in favor of affirming the commission's recommendation.

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