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Would ousted Rochester City Court Judge Astacio be able to serve if elected?

March 06, 2019 07:00 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Questions remain when it comes to whether ousted Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio will, or even can, run for public office again.

As News10NBC reported on Tuesday, Astacio approached the Monroe County Board of Elections on Monday to express interest in a possible run for Rochester City Court and Rochester City Council. 

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Being a candidate in either race really isn't the issue.

If Astacio gets the required number of signatures, she can likely get on the ballot and run but there is a question as to whether she'd actually be able to assume the office she's running for if she were to get elected.  

The NYS Constitution seems clear, a judge that is removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Conduct cannot be a judge again in New York state.

Astacio already appealed the commission's decision to NYS's highest court and lost, so it's unlikely she'd have success getting back on the bench.

When it comes to a seat on the Rochester City Council, her odds are much better.

If her criminal case was over, there would be no question that she could serve. But, she is still facing a felony charge of attempted criminal purchase of a weapon.

The terms of her probation for drunk driving prohibit her from possessing a firearm or dangerous weapon, Astacio's probation officer says she attempted to buy a shotgun at a local Dick's Sporting Goods.

If she was elected, assumed office and then was convicted of that felony, the Rochester City Charter and NYS Election Law say she'd be removed from the Rochester City Council.

But her case is supposed to be heard long before election day; a trial date is set for April 1.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke spoke with the New York State Board of Elections about what a felony conviction would mean.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke: "If she's convicted (of a felony) before the election, as long as she's not in jail…she can still be elected?"

John Conklin: "Yes, if she's convicted before election day she can serve irrespective of the sentence.  If she's sentenced to prison she might have a residency problem but that can't be assumed." 

Lewke: "Even if she were to be serving a term of probation?"

Conklin: "Probation is definitely not a bar to being elected."

Lewke: "Her trial is in April, she can actually fill the seat (if elected) is she's convicted of a felony?"

Conklin: "If the conviction comes down in April, it is not a bar to her serving in the office." 

Astacio, of course, is presumed innocent of the felony charge until proven guilty.

Her trail has been moved to Onondaga County Court because of all of the attention her case has brought in Monroe County.

News10NBC did reach out to her on Wednesday to see if she wanted to comment on this story, however, she did not get back to us.

Astacio has not formally announced any plans to run for public office but told friends and followers in a Facebook post this week, "well-behaved women rarely make history and shake some sh*t up this month, I certainly plan to." 

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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