Judge censured for “slug” remark

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has censured an upstate judge for trying to punish state lawmakers for not enacting judicial pay raises and for calling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver “a slug” for his reluctance to raise judges’ pay.

State judges haven’t had a raise in more than 10 years.

According to the commission, Cattaraugus County Judge Larry M. Himelein disqualified himself in 11 cases involving state legislators or their law firms to put economic pressure on the legislators’ law firms to get them to enact a pay raise for the judiciary.

“Judge Himelein’s actions were aggravated by the fact that he sent out numerous mass e-mail messages to other judges strongly encouraging them to join him in mass disqualification as a tactic in the pay-raise dispute and denigrating judges who refused to do so,” the commission stated. “He also made inappropriate public comments about legislators and, in particular, a party to the pay-raise litigation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom he called a ‘slug.’”

The Commission’s Administrator, Robert H. Tembeckjian, said that despite the lack of pay raises, it was unacceptable for the judge “to bring the controversy into an individual courtroom and penalize individual legislators and their clients as a ‘tactic’ or ‘weapon’ in the pay raise dispute.”

The release, determination and relevant exhibits are also available on the Commission’s website, http://www.scjc.state.ny.us

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.