On Friday, November 17, 2023, the Times Union reported that the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct had dismissed a complaint against Rensselaer County Family Court Judge Elizabeth Walsh relating to a bullying scandal in the court. The commission had informed Walsh on October 16, 2023, that she would not face any sanctions for her alleged role in contributing to a hostile work environment.
The complaint stemmed from an investigation conducted earlier this year by the New York State Office of Court Administration’s Inspector General. The IG’s probe found that Walsh and Rensselaer County Family Court Judge Jill Kehn had conspired with four court staffers to bully and harass another employee. As a result, Judge Kehn was transferred to Albany County Family Court while one staffer was fired and others were also transferred.
While the details of the IG’s investigation have not been made public, documents showed Walsh expressed displeasure over inclusion posters displayed in the courthouse by clerical staff. She reportedly found the posters had the “opposite effect” on employees and staff. Judge Kehn also criticized the posters.
Despite these findings, the Commission on Judicial Conduct dismissed the complaint against Walsh after determining it was without merit. Walsh’s lawyer, Michael Ginsberg, said this suggests the IG report lacked sufficient evidence. He criticized the confidential nature of the IG’s process, saying it fails to provide due process or transparency for those investigated.
In response, the Office of Court Administration maintained the confidentiality of its investigations is important to protect complainants and subjects. However, if allegations are substantiated, subjects are notified.
With the complaint dismissed, Walsh will face no further punishment and can continue serving as a family court judge in Rensselaer County. It remains unclear if Judge Kehn could still face sanctions from the Judicial Conduct Commission for her role in the bullying scandal. For now, she remains in her new post in Albany County Family Court.
The dismissal brings some closure to the complaint against Walsh, though it does not change the original findings of the Inspector General’s investigation into workplace harassment within the Rensselaer County court system.
Source: Times Union