Saturday, December 02, 2006

Albany judge censured

I don't know how I missed this. One of our local judges, Hon. William Carter from Albany City Court, was censured in September by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

You can read the details here: http://www.scjc.state.ny.us/Determinations/C/carter.htm

This is one of those moments where you see a man unfairly assessed based on one or two incidents when he's had a substantial career. I've known Judge Carter for quite some time now, dating back to somewhere in the early 90s when I was an intern in the DA's office (I think that's where I first met him).

Judge Carter is a consummate professional. He knows the law better than just about any other judge out there. He is also extremely disciplined on the bench, which is why the circumstances behind the censure are so surprising. I don't know what that guy did to get Judge Carter upset, but he must have really gone over the top. Albany City Court - Criminal Part is mostly an unpleasant place to be. It has to be one of the toughest courts to be a judge because of the volume and the seriousness of what they handle.

Please don't get me wrong. While I'm saying nice things about Judge Carter here, I'm not necessarily his biggest fan. I've butted heads with him before on a case and I didn't necessarily like the way he dealt with me then. Also, he once barked at me for reading a newspaper while I was waiting in his courtroom - the big courtroom where we sit on the other side of a glass wall from the judge, prosecutors, police and court staff (How is that fair to defendants? - but I digress). He may have been right about the paper, but I still didn't like it. He's not the most pleasant judge and not my favorite judge by any stretch.

But I can't think of a time when I've seen him make an incorrect ruling. He lets us attorneys do our jobs, gives us more time if we ask for it, and he's an excellent listener (which no one could say about me). He may not be pleasant, but he has a solid temperament. Not my favorite judge maybe, but a very good judge nonetheless, and well respected by those who work in that court, on all sides.

This censure looks like one of those situations where brief moments in time are overanalyzed. One part of it was obviously a joke and the fact that this was even considered shows how far we've gone into the world of political correctness.
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