On Thursday, April 25, 2024, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of David W. Wilbanks from his position as Justice of the Fort Covington Town Court in Franklin County.

The Commission determined that Justice Wilbanks failed to properly file mandatory monthly reports and remit funds collected by the court to the New York State Comptroller from December 2022 through May 2023. As a result, his judicial salary was withheld for up to six months until he filed the late reports in July 2023.

In addition to the financial reporting issues, Justice Wilbanks did not cooperate with the Commission’s investigation into his conduct. He did not respond to two inquiry letters sent by the Commission seeking information. Justice Wilbanks also failed to appear when summoned to provide testimony about the matters in question.

When served with a formal written complaint in October 2023 detailing the charges against him, Justice Wilbanks did not file a response. In December 2023, the Commission Administrator filed a motion seeking a summary determination, but the judge did not submit any response to this motion. Based on the uncontested facts, the Commission found the allegations against Justice Wilbanks to be proven in January 2024.

The Commission issued its final determination on April 12, 2024, recommending Justice Wilbanks’ removal from office. All 11 members of the Commission concurred with the decision. However, Justice Wilbanks has not participated or responded to the proceedings at any stage, demonstrating what the Commission termed a “disdain for the Commission’s important function.”

Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian made the following statement:

“Town and village court justices are responsible for reporting their cases and promptly remitting all official monies collected by their courts from fines, fees, and other sources. The failure to do so, and the associated failure to participate in resulting disciplinary proceedings, undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

As a non-attorney judge first elected in 2021, Justice Wilbanks’ current term is set to expire on December 31, 2024. The Commission’s determination has been transmitted to the New York State Court of Appeals. Justice Wilbanks now has 30 days to request the Court of Appeals to review the sanction. If no review is requested, the Court of Appeals will remove him from office based on the Commission’s ruling.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.