How I Got this Rogue Judge off the Bench

[by Susan Ashline]

An Upstate New York judge is off the bench because I filed a complaint; even then, the body I complained to simply let him resign rather than take action.

Like other organizations that police themselves, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is notorious for giving passes to their own kind.

The commission is tasked with investigating complaints of judicial misconduct, but of 11 members, 9 are judges and lawyers.

The majority of judges found guilty of the most heinous misconduct are merely “censured.” That means the commission sends out a press release naming them.

In this case, the commission allowed Livingston County (York) Town Justice Walter Purtell to resign after my complaint pushed him over the edge. Their press release says so:

“The judge was also apprised by the Commission in January 2017 that it was investigating a separate complaint regarding his conduct handling a recent arraignment.”

Purtell was the subject of a complaint in November; the commission brought my December complaint to him in January, which was the tipping point to his resignation.

I pat myself on the back, because a lot of people whined about his actions, but didn’t take steps to effectively address the issue.

Purtell violated the U.S. Constitution – not a small matter. Purtell is a retired state trooper, and in violation of the First Amendment, he illegally closed his courtroom for the arraignment of Danielle Allen, daughter of Purtell’s crony, State Police Troop E Commander Major Rick Allen. A State Police staffer then blocked the media and citizens from entering.

Courtesy: WHEC

The day the media were barred from the courtroom, media staffers called the administrative judge for the 7th Judicial District, Craig J. Doran. Doran’s response was to simply move the case to a different judge.

Doran took no other action. A judge had violated the constitutional rights of citizens en masse, and Doran simply transferred one of the judge’s cases.

So I filed a formal complaint with the Commission on Judicial Conduct [letter acknowledging my complaint.] On March 16, they sent me a copy of their decision, and a letter stating “in view of the judge’s resignation… the Commission has determined to close its file.”

At least that blight is off the bench.

People say if you think you can do the job better – go ahead and try.

I did. I ran for town justice years ago.

I just might do it again.

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Upstate NY Judge Illegally Closes Courtroom for Crony


Girlfriend pleads not guilty during closed-door arraignment for York stabbing case

The Daily News (December 2, 2016)

York Town Justice Walter Purtell violated the US Bill of Rights by closing his courtroom. The judge, a retired trooper, illegally closed court for the arraignment of State Police Major Rick Allen’s daughter.

Purtell’s seat is up for re-election in 2017. When he starts violating individuals’ civil liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution – time to leave the bench.

York Town Judge Walter Purtell Illegally Closes Courtroom

A closed arraignment

Reporters were initially held at the bottom of the stairs as the arraignment was going on in Purtell’s second-story courtroom.

A man who identified himself as a family liaison, and who was later identified by Purtell as a victim’s specialist with New York State Police, told reporters the courtroom was closed.

When asked in his courtroom whether he had closed Allen’s arraignment to media, Purtell nodded his head and said “yes.”

Allen was joined in Purtell’s closed courtroom by her defense attorney, Meyers-Buth; Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey; her parents, Sharon and Richard Allen; the two Livingston County Sheriff’s deputies who transported her to the courthouse; and, near the end of the arraignment, the man who identified himself as a “family liaison” and a bail bondsman.

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