On Monday, June 10, 2024, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced that it had determined Rochester City Court Judge Van H. White should receive an admonition for engaging in conduct that violated judicial rules and undermined public confidence in his impartiality.

The Commission found that on multiple occasions shortly after becoming a judge in July 2022, Judge White made public statements that showed or created an appearance of bias. In one instance, Judge White participated in a rally addressing the shooting of a three-year-old boy, where he spoke to media and commented on an ongoing problem in the community on the same day another judge was arraigning a defendant in the case. In another matter, before arraigning a defendant charged in the shooting of two police officers, Judge White asked for a moment of silence and made remarks sympathetic to the victims’ families, giving the impression he had already formed an opinion despite the defendant’s presumed innocence.

The Commission also found that Judge White made and posted videos on social media prior to becoming a judge that should have been removed after he became a judge. One such post compared police officers to wolves. These posts remained online for around 10 months after Judge White became a judge.

Additionally, through his public websites and social media profiles that still identified him as a judge, Judge White inappropriately dispensed legal advice, violating judicial rules prohibiting full-time judges from practicing law. In light of these violations, the Commission unanimously concluded Judge White’s statements and actions undermined public confidence in his impartiality.

However, the Commission noted the misconduct occurred shortly after Judge White became a judge and accepted a jointly recommended sanction of an admonition after Judge White agreed to this resolution. Going forward, Judge White has committed to being more sensitive to his ethical obligations. The determination was then sent to Judge White and the New York Court of Appeals for any potential further review. If no review is requested, Judge White will formally receive an admonition from the Commission in line with its decision.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.