A former Middletown town justice who was removed from office by a state commission, and accused of favoritism and ticket-fixing, has lost his appeal to have his removal from office overturned.
In a 6-1 decision issued on Dec. 10, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a decision by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct in the case of Middletown justice Glen George, who was removed from office and accused of judicial misconduct in May.
In their decision to remove George from office in May, the majority of the 11-member commission cited two cases in which they felt the judge had showed favoritism to personal friends. In one case, George dismissed a traffic ticket for a friend and former employer without disclosing their personal connection; in another, George told a landowner who was considering a lawsuit against another of George's friends that he would be unlikely to win his case.
Like most town and village justices in New York State, George is not a lawyer, as both the Court of Appeals and the commission have noted. A former state trooper, George served as Middletown justice from 1985 until his removal from the bench in May.
The commission acted to remove George from office shortly before he was scheduled to retire. George appealed the decision.
Six of the seven judges on the Appeals Court agreed to uphold the commission's decision and rebuke of George. In the majority opinion, they write that the charges against George amount to "serious misconduct," and that the misconduct was more grave because George had already received a previous rebuke from the state commission.
Appeals Court Judge Eugene Pigott disagreed with the majority opinion, writing in a dissent that he felt the state commission had punished George too harshly. Pigott writes:
Following 20 years of distinguished service as a New York State trooper and now 28 years as a town justice (48 years of public service in all), and after having been repeatedly reelected by the citizens of Middletown, Judge George will be removed from the bench, in the very month in which he was to retire, because of a churlish and overreaching decision of the Judicial Conduct Commission, which, regrettably, the Court endorses. I would reject the Commission's sanction of removal and impose instead the sanction of admonition.
George will be replaced on the Middletown court by Margaretville attorney John Fairbairn III, who was elected to office in November. Middletown's other town justice, Gary Rosa, is also a local attorney.
The full text of the Appeals Court's decision can be read below.