Village Justice Censured Over Drunken Driving Arrest

, New York Law Journal

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A village court justice from Rockland County should be censured for a drunken driving arrest in which he became combative with police and refused to take a breathalyzer test, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct said Tuesday. Thomas Newman Jr., an attorney who has been Sloatsburg Village Court justice since 1981, "engaged in conduct that undermines his effectiveness as a judge and brings the judiciary as a whole into disrepute," the commission said.

See Determination and Agreed Statement of Facts.

In August 2011, Newman's vehicle struck a stopped car from behind at a traffic light in Ramapo. When officers tried to take him into custody, he attempted to break away and repeatedly told police that he wanted to kill himself, according to the commission.

It noted that following his arrest, Newman immediately began treatment for alcoholism through a psychologist and Alcoholics Anonymous. He told the commission during its investigation that he has not had a drink since.

"Respondent has been contrite and cooperative with the Commission throughout this inquiry and has expressed embarrassment and remorse for his behavior and any diminution of respect for the judiciary it may have caused," the commission said.

Commission Chairman Thomas Klonick and Judge Terry Jane Ruderman (See Profile), the vice chair, agreed to the censure as did Judge Rolando Acosta (See Profile), Joseph Belluck, Joel Cohen, Jodie Corngold and Richard Stoloff.

Richard Emery, Paul Harding and Judge David Weinstein (See Profile) dissented on the grounds that censure was too lenient a sanction.

Brenda Correa represented the commission.

Patrick Burke of Burke, Miele & Golden of Goshen represented Newman, who is a partner at Kornfeld, Rew, Newman & Simeone in Suffern.

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