By Christina Carrega
The highest court in the state removed a civil court judge from the bench for being “belligerent, rude and condescending,” a higher court decided on Tuesday.
The New York State Court of Appeal unanimously agreed that Queens Civil Court Judge Terrence O’Connor should be removed from office after four claims of misconduct were substantiated by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Former judge O’Connor presided over landlord-tenant disputes in the Sutphin Blvd. courthouse that he described at a “rough and tumble” nature. When the allegations were brought to the commission’s attention O’Connor did not participate and they concluded that he should be fired.
O’Connor, 69, appealed.
“...evidence supporting the Commission’s determination that, on numerous occasions, petitioner acted impatiently, raised his voice, and made demeaning and insulting remarks, often in open court,” according to the decision released by the Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
The commission found that O’Connor did not treat those appearing before him with dignity and respect and “abuse[d] [his] judicial power” when he twice struck witness testimony and dismissed petitions for insufficient proof as a result of counsel’s reflexive use of the word “okay,” the decision read.
O’Connor suggested that his behavior should warrant a censure, but the higher court disagreed.
“...in addition to a sustained pattern of inappropriate behavior in the courtroom, petitioner repeatedly failed to appear before the Commission, and engaged in other conduct demonstrating his unwillingness to cooperate fully with the investigation,” the judge’s wrote.
O’Connor was elected to the bench in 2009 and his term was expected to expire this year.
“Under all of the relevant circumstances, and considering petitioner’s conduct as a whole, we conclude that the determined sanction of removal is warranted,” the decision read.
In a separate decision, the higher court also ruled to boot Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio following a parole violation from a DWI conviction.