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Commission on Judicial Conduct removes Judge Astacio from bench

April 25, 2018 12:32 PM

Tuesday, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct said Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio should be removed from the bench.  

Click here to watch News10NBC's Facebook Live video of the Commission's news conference.

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Judge Astacio has been the center of controversy, anger, and frustration since her drunk driving arrest more than two years ago. But it wasn't just drunk driving that got her removed. It's what she said on the bench as a judge. 
  
Robert Tembeckjian, Administrator NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct as determined that Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio should be removed from office.”
 
The Administrator of the Commission outlined the charges against Judge Astacio. 

  • Charge one: Her DWI conviction. 
  • Charge two: She used her office as a judge at the time of her arrest "in an attempt to evade the consequences of her arrest," Tembeckjian said. 
  • Charge 3: Violating her DWI sentence. 
  • Charge 4: The fact that she arraigned a former client when she was a judge, and said, "I totally love him. I'm so sad he's in jail right now."
  • Charge 5: She made undignified comments in four cases as a judge, including one about a victim in a sex abuse case, "repeating a remark made by an attorney that the alleged victim had 'buyer's remorse.'" Tembeckjian said. "And later saying she thought it was 'freakin' hilarious.'"

She's also accused of telling court deputies to physically harm an unruly defendant. "For example," Tembeckjian said. "Telling officers they should tase or 'shoot' or 'punch' an allegedly (inaudible) defendant in the 'face.'"
 
Robert Tembeckjian said that those cases were in 2015, a year before she was arrested for drunk driving. The cases were discovered in the Commission's investigation. 

Astacio's felony arrest for trying to buy a shotgun recently was not part of the Commission's ruling. The DWI conviction and the comments from the bench were enough. 

"In their totality, they reveal a judge who is unfit to remain on the bench," Tembeckjian said. 

Astacio can accept the Commission's ruling, close her case, and stop her $187,200 salary. Or she can appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, and keep getting paid through the summer. The Court of Appeals usually takes three to five months to hear this kind of appeal. 

Berkeley Brean: “The system allows her to keep her salary, keep getting paid until the appeal process is over. Do you think she should still get paid?” 
Robert Tembeckjian, Administrator NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “I'm not going to make a comment of judgment on that. The Court of Appeals is the only entity in New York to suspend a judge without or without pay, and I will not advise the Court of Appeals on how they should handle that.”

The Court of Appeal suspended Astacio with pay after her arrest for trying to buy the shotgun. 

Astacio has 30 days to appeal the Commission's decision. Her lawyer, Bob Julian from Syracuse told News10NBC, "I will be reviewing our options with my client, including appeal. We plan to make a decision shortly."

Credits

Berkeley Brean

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

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