Final misconduct hearing public at judge’s request
NEW YORK–At the request of a judge accused of misconduct, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct’s final hearing on his case, which took place in mid-September, was open to the public. The New York Law Journal reported that the state legislature is considering whether all judicial misconduct hearings should be public.
The 11-member commission conducted five weeks of investigative hearings that were closed to the public.
Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Lorin Duckman came under fire after Benito Oliver, a man whose bail he reduced, killed his former girlfriend, Galina Komar, and himself in February 1996, shortly after he got out of jail. Oliver had been imprisoned for almost one month awaiting trial for harassing Komar.
The commission’s investigation later expanded to include other allegations that Duckman tended to favor the defense and that he displayed “intemperate and injudicious conduct” in dealing with prosecutors.
Since Duckman waived his confidentiality, the commission released copies of its complaint, a transcript from the fact-finding process, an independent referee’s report upholding the charges and most of the commission’s factual findings, Duckman’s brief defending his conduct and the commission staff’s brief arguing for Duckman’s removal. The New York Law Journal has posted the documents on its website.
The commission is deciding whether Duckman should be removed or should suffer some lesser penalty. A decision is expected in October and is reviewable by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest appellate court. (In re: Duckman; Judge’s Counsel: Ronald Russo, Manhattan)