The New York State Commisson on Judicial Conduct released its 2010 Annual Report yesterday, which covers its activities for the year 2009.
In 2009 the commission received 168 complaints against New York State’s 127 family court judges. The commission investigated 25 of those complaints. Following investigations, one family curt judge was cautioned while two were publicly disciplined.
The three family court judges who were disciplined or cautioned were Dandrea L. Ruhlmann, Larry M. Himelein, and Conrad D. Singer.
Matter of Dandrea L. Ruhlmann
“On February 9, 2009, the Commission determined that Dandrea L. Ruhlmann, a Judge of the Family Court, Monroe County, should be censured for misusing court resources by repeatedly requiring her confidential secretary to provide child care services during court hours and to perform personal typing duties for the judge’s husband. The judge also required her secretary to access a confidential database to get information for the judge’s husband, an attorney. Judge Ruhlmann did not request review by the Court of Appeals.”
Matter of Larry M. Himelein
“On December 17, 2009, the Commission found that Larry M. Himelein, a Judge of the County Court, Family Court and Surrogate’s Court, Cattaraugus County, should be censured.* The Commission found that Judge Himelein improperly disqualified himself in 11 cases involving State legislators or their law firms as a “tactic” or “weapon” in order to further the judiciary’s interest in achieving legislative approval for a pay raise. Judge Himelein’s actions were aggravated by the fact that he sent numerous mass e-mail messages to other judges strongly encouraging them to join him in making similar recusals. He also made inappropriate public comments about legislators and, in particular, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a party to pending litigation on the pay-raise issue. Judge Himelein did not request review by the Court of Appeals.”
Matter of Conrad D. Singer
“On July 1, 2009, the Commission found that Conrad D. Singer, a Judge of the Family Court,
Nassau County, should be admonished for improperly exercising the contempt power in a
custody matter and for making an inappropriate ex parte hospital visit to a youth who was being
held for a mental evaluation. Judge Singer did not request review by the Court of Appeals.”
Recommendations by the commission in the 2010 report
The 2010 Annual Report by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct also offered a number of recommendations. These include giving the Court of Appeals the right to review any decision by the commission even if the judge involved does not request review by the court. Furthermore, it recommended that all disciplinary proceedings against judges be opened to the public as they currently are in 35 states.
* The only punishment more severe than censure is removal from office.
For more info: Read the entire 2010 Annual Report
How to file a complaint against a judge in New York State.
Family Court Judge Gerard Maney likely to only be admonished by judicial commission for DWAI.
Read other articles by Dan Weaver about family court.