On Tuesday, September 1, 2022, Lawrence K Marks, Chief Administrative Judge at New York State Unified Court System, filed an affidavit in opposition to Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge Harriet Thompson’s petition to vacate Judge Marks’ order that removed her from the bench.
On December 20, 2021, the Chief Administrative Judge issued an administrative order relieving Judge Thompson of her probate cases and barring her from entering non-public areas of the downtown Brooklyn courthouse.
At the time, the memo from the Office of Judge Marks only noted an “extensive investigation” that had substantiated “serious allegations of misconduct.”
On April 14, 2022, Judge Thompson filed an Article 78 petition against the state Office of Court Administration (OCA) in Brooklyn Supreme Court alleging that the suspension “was affected by an error of law, or was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of authority and an abuse of discretion, including abuse of discretion as to the measure or mode of penalty or discipline in imposed on Petitioner.”
In his affidavit, Judge Marks uncovered the plethora of hateful remarks Judge Harriet Thompson allegedly said “in the courthouse in the presence of United Court System personnel.”
According to Judge Marks’ affidavit:
“On December 3, 2021, I received a confidential report of an investigation conducted by the UCS Office of the Inspector General (“IG”) which substantiated allegations that Petitioner had engaged in inappropriate conduct. Petitioner is a Judge of the Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, who commenced her 14-year term on January 1, 2019. The investigation was conducted at my request after I learned of serious allegations of misconduct on the part of the Petitioner.
The conduct substantiated by the IG’s investigation consists of inappropriate statements by Petitioner in the courthouse in the presence of UCS personnel which disparaged (i) the sexual orientation of UCS court administrators and members of the State Judiciary in King County; (ii) the competence and physical appearance of members of the State Judiciary in Kings County; (iii) the physical appearance of State court employees in Kings County; and (iv) the character of judges, attorneys, and court users in Kings County based on their membership in a particular ethnic group.”
Regarding the sexual orientation of UCS court administrators and members of the State Judiciary in Kings County, Judge Harriet allegedly stated that: “Four members of the State Judiciary were “gay racist f****ts [slur for gaymen] all fucking each other, they’re trying to ruin me and get me. I hate these gay white men; I’m going to show them. I’m afraid of no one, no one. The Holy Ghost told me and is showing me what they are trying to do.”
Regarding an African American member of the State Judiciary, Judge Harriet allegedly stated that: “She walked around for years with that color in her hair looking ridiculous. What would make her do that? For years she wore blond hair looking horrible. And I never understand why black women would wear blond hair to look like White women, but for some reason, she thinks she looks good. That’s disgusting. No Black woman should wear blond hair.”
Regarding Hispanic court employees, attorneys, and court users, Judge Harriet allegedly stated that: “I do not like Hispanic people. They have a deceitful trait that goes way back to biblical times… The men are always stealing, and the women are no better, they lie, steal, and use their vaginas for anything they want. They are corrupt and lost as a people. Trust me, watch them and how they move.”
On December 17, 2022, the IG referred the matter to Commission on Judicial Conduct for further action. According to Judge Marks, Judge Harriet was booted off the bench because he determined that it would not be appropriate for her to continue to preside over judicial matters or interact with court personnel for the duration of the Commission’s investigation.
Judge Marks’affidavit concluded that:
“In sum, the reassignment of judicial matters away from Petitioner and the assignment of an Acting Surrogate to handle the reassigned matters, as well as new matters brought before the Surrogate’s Court, are lawful exercises of the respective administrative authority of the Chief Administrative Judge and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge. Both administrative orders should, therefore, be upheld. WHEREFORE, the petition should be dismissed.”
Before joining the Kings County Surrogate Court in 2019, Judge Harriet was a judge of the New York City Civil Court in Queens County. The Judge earned a law degree from Albany Law School.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.