On Saturday, December 30, 2023, NewsRadio WHAM 1180 reported that a Rochester City Court judge seems to have broken judicial conduct rules. According to the report, Judge Michael C. Lopez had sent an email from his official court email account to around 40 progressive activists in the Rochester area.
The email, dated December 5th, appeared to contain talking points to encourage support for Yversha Roman’s candidacy for president of the Monroe County Legislature. However, as a sitting judge, Judge Lopez is prohibited from engaging in any partisan political activity according to New York state’s judicial conduct rules. His use of his official court email along with possible use of court resources like computers or chambers during work hours to draft the message also were potential violations.
NewsRadio WHAM 1180 stated they received a copy of the email, which was widely distributed to addresses affiliated with local governments and non-profits in the Rochester region. This included the City of Rochester, Monroe County, and Rochester City School District, as well as non-profits receiving federal funding such as Ibero American Action League and its affiliate. Experts noted this could violate restrictions on using governmental or non-profit resources for political purposes.
If a formal complaint was filed with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, it could lead to sanctions against Judge Lopez. However, the report noted cynicism that meaningful action would be taken given the interconnected network of political and non-profit officials involved in the situation. They are reported to have significant influence in Rochester and its funding decisions.
While political maneuvering for the Legislature presidency may be expected, the radio report criticized the flagrant violations of judicial ethics codes and possible misuse of official public communications systems involved in Judge Lopez’s actions. It remains to be seen if any investigations or accountability will stem from the allegations.
Source: NewsRadio WHAM 1180