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

More support for DiFiore

Looks like more high-profile Democrats are speaking in support of keeping Janet DiFiore as Westchester County’s District Attorney:

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver joined other Westchester Assembly Democrats at the county’s Democratic Committee headquarters to endorse DiFiore’s re-election bid today in White Plains.

“Janet DiFiore is a tough and intelligent prosecutor who is taking the lead on the issues that matter to the residents of Westchester County – from Child Advocacy to Youth Courts, drug treatment for the addicted, to prisoner re-entry, training and education for law enforcers, to community outreach,” Silver said. “She is a great D.A., and a talented legal mind. And I am proud to endorse her re-election.”

Assembly members Amy Paulin of Scarsdale, Adam Bradley of White Plains, Mike Spano of Yonkers and Sandra Galef of Ossining also praised DiFiore’s work as D.A. over the past 4 years.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Tony Castro is planning a press conference at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow to “make an announcement about his candidacy” for District Attorney in front of the Board of Elections. I called Castro’s campaign HQ to find out what this is about. I got the machine. And no call back.