On Wednesday, August 24, 2022, the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct censured Raymond J. Kennedy, a Justice of the Durham Town Court, Greene County, for abusing his office to further his and his wife’s interests.
The complaint, filed on March 15, 2022, involved a small claims matter in the Catskill Village Court in which the respondent’s wife was the named defendant. The complaint alleged that Kennedy “lent the prestige of his judicial office to advance his and his wife’s private financial interests” when he represented his wife and frequently mentioned his judicial position.
According to the filing:
“During the proceeding, respondent gratuitously asserted his judicial office by stating, “Your Honor, I’ll state that to the court that it’s no secret I’m a judge in another locality, and prior to that, I was a state trooper for 30 years.” Respondent further asserted his judicial status and cast irrelevant aspersions on Mr. Romelus, by stating that “he showed up at my court, and he threatened [sic] my court clerk . . .” who “called for assistance from my other judge . . ..” Respondent thereafter made two references to “my court” during his narrative.”
The court also stated that when Kennedy invoked his judicial status and acted as if he were an attorney in the small claims proceeding involving his wife, he created the appearance that he expected special treatment and deference because of his status as a judge.
Kennedy acknowledged that it was improper for him to have advocated for his wife at the small claims hearing as if he were an attorney. He further acknowledges that even if all those present at the hearing were aware of his judicial status, it was improper for him to have asserted his judicial office, particularly since he did so repeatedly and in furtherance of his and his wife’s financial gain.
The order reads:
“In accepting the jointly recommended sanction of censure, we have taken into consideration that the respondent has acknowledged that his conduct was improper and warrants public discipline. We trust that respondent has learned from this experience and in the future will act in strict accordance with his obligation to abide by all the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.
By reason of the foregoing, the Commission determines that the appropriate disposition is censure.”
The Judge’s Courtroom is at 7309 NY-81 in East Durham and can be reached at 518-239-8260.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.