March 12, 2018 07:19 PM
News10NBC has uncovered information that the state agency investigating Rochester Judge Leticia Astacio got a record number of complaints last year and News10NBC asked the head of the agency if that's why it's taking so long to complete cases.
In 2017, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct got 2,143 complaints against New York State judges.
I reached the Commission's administrator by phone.
Brean: “Does the judicial commission have to do at least some work on every single complaint that comes in?”
Robert Tembeckjian, NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “Yes, every single complaint that comes in gets analyzed.”
Of those complaints 2,143 complaints, the Commission started 605 preliminary inquiries. Out of those it started 148 full investigations.
Brean: “Is that a factor in why it can take some cases so long to get done?”
Robert Tembeckjian, NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “Yes, that is one factor. 605 preliminary inquiries and the 148 new full-fledged investigations combined was also a record this year.”
The Commission started investigating Judge Leticia Astacio sometime after her DWI conviction in the summer of 2016. At a state budget hearing in January, Commission Administrator Tembeckjian was asked about Judge Astacio. He blamed the length of cases in part on the fact that the Commission hasn't had a budget increase in 10 years.
"A case such as the one you mentioned (Judge Astacio)," Tembeckjian told state lawmakers, "might have been disposed of six months ago if we had the resources commensurate with our responsibility."
Brean: “What can you tell our viewers about what's going to happen with that investigation?”
Robert Tembeckjian, NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “I'm afraid that I can't say anything about that.”
State law says all Commission cases are confidential.
Because of the decade long budget freeze, Tembeckjian says the Commission's staff has been cut 20 percent. I covered Tembeckjian in January when he asked state lawmakers for more money.
Robert Tembeckjian, NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct: “Your reporting has made a significant difference because I have heard from the staffs of key legislators that this is on their radar in a way it hasn't been before and that's in large part due to the public attention that was drawn to the subject by your reporting.”
Judge Astacio was elected to Rochester City Court in 2012. Her term expires in 2024.
She was directed to return to work at the Hall of Justice two weeks ago after being absent for six months. Astacio reported to work one morning. We asked Administrative Judge Craig Doran if she reported to work any other day. When News10NBC receives a response, we will report it.
Created: March 12, 2018 07:19 PM
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