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Judge Astacio appealing decision to remove her as a judge

May 17, 2018 06:12 PM

Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio is appealing the decision of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct to remove her as an elected judge. The deadline to appeal was May 29. 

Judge Astacio is currently suspended with pay by the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest level court in the state. 

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Astacio's appeal was filed with the Court of Appeals. In the letter to the court sent yesterday, Astacio's attorney Bob Julian wrote,

"Please be advised that I represent the Honorable Leticia Astacio, Judge of the Rochester City Court. Pursuant to Judiciary Law 244, we do not accept the Determination of the Commission on Judicial Conduct and request a review by the Court of Appeals of the Determination."

According to an email from the Commission on Judicial Conduct, "the Court of Appeals will set a schedule for the submission of briefs and the presentation of oral argument. The Court may accept the determined sanction, impose a different sanction including admonition or censure, or impose no sanction."

When it released its decision to remove Judge Astacio, Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian said the appeal process usually takes three to five months. During that time, Judge Astacio will collected her $187,500 salary. 

If the appeal lasts five months, that equals $78,125. That almost equals the $79,500 base salary of a New York State lawmaker. 

The Court of Appeals says oral arguments will happen in the fall. 

Judge Astacio's court appearance Thursday in Henrietta related to the charge that she attempted to buy a shotgun while on probation was postponed until June 6. 

In its decision to remove Judge Astacio, Tembeckjian pinpointed Astacio's "profane and angry" reaction to the New York State Trooper who arrested her for DWI.

Tembeckjian says Astacio tried to use her position as a judge to get out of trouble. The Commission's report also highlighted several instances, while Astacio was on the bench, including telling court deputies to "tase," "shoot," or "punch" an unruly defendant and repeating and laughing at a defense lawyer's remark that the victim in a sex abuse case had "buyer's remorse."

"The removal from office is appropriate for such egregious misconduct," Tembeckjian said. "In their totality they reveal a judge who is unfit to remain on the bench."

Attorney Peter Pullano has argued in front of the New York State Court of Appeals five times. He calls it a "hot bench," meaning the seven-judge panel likes to ask questions quickly. 
    
Peter Pullano, managing partner Tully Rinckey PLLC: I've found usually when I've been there that before I'm out of my chair the first judge has fired the first question at me.

Brean: Do you think it's the same when you're dealing with the future of a sitting judge? 

Pullano: I think it's probably even more so. 
 
Since 1978, the Court of Appeals has heard 72 appeals where the Commission on Judicial Conduct decided to removed a judge. 

On appeal, nine of the cases were reduced to a censure. Another was reduced to an admonition. 

So those judges kept their jobs. 

In two cases, the Court of Appeal elevated the punishment against an elected judge by removing them from the bench even though the Commission decided to only reprimand them. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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