On Friday, January 5, 2024, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined that E. Timothy Mercer, a part-time judge in Athens Town Court, should be removed from office for improperly awarding a contract to his own company and falsifying invoices.

Judge Mercer was accused of assigning a no-bid $3,300 security camera installation contract from a Justice Court Assistance Program grant to his own company, Mercer Associates, without disclosing his financial interest. He allegedly purchased a camera system that was $760 less than what was proposed but inflated the invoice to match the original fraudulent amount. Judge Mercer also purportedly signed off on payment to his company from his position on the bench.

When concerns were raised about conflicts of interest, Judge Mercer reportedly tried to pressure the town into paying the invoice by invoking his judicial status and threatening to charge interest on late payments. He only dropped efforts to obtain the money after the Commission started its investigation. The Commission found that even after being aware of ethical issues, Judge Mercer did not take adequate steps to remedy his misconduct and compounded the problems by continuing to demand payment.

After a formal complaint and hearing, the Commission determined that Judge Mercer’s actions constituted improper self-dealing and deceit that undermined trust in the impartiality of the courts. It voted 10-0 that removal from office was the appropriate sanction since he abused his position for private gain. The determination was forwarded to the New York Court of Appeals, where Judge Mercer can choose to accept removal or request further judicial review.

If the removal stands, Judge Mercer will be permanently barred from serving as a judge in New York again.

Judge Mercer, who is not an attorney, became a Justice of the Athens Town Court in 2020. His current term expired on December 31, 2023.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.