On Thursday, October 6, 2022, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced that it filed a determination on August 24, 2022, censuring Kathleen L. Robichaud, a part-time Judge of the Rensselaer City Court, Rensselaer County, for improperly asserting her judicial office while representing a client.

The judge was charged with violating Sections 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(B), and 100.2(C) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which states:

A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others.

According to the determination, on March 15, 2022, Judge Robichaud was served with a formal written complaint alleging that from March 2019 to April 2021, in seven different courts in Rensselaer, Albany, and Rockland Counties, she lent the prestige of her judicial office to advance the private interests of her client J.P. in that she used an email address on court filings and legal correspondence that identified her as a judge. The complaint also alleged that on a Consent to Change Attorney form that required notarization, Judge Robichaud crossed out the words “Notary Public” and wrote “City Court Judge” beneath her signature, erroneously believing she could witness and sign the form as a judge in lieu of being a notary public, despite the fact that she was neither an independent third party nor disinterested in the transaction.

The determination states:

“Respondent inappropriately used her judicial title in her personal email address that she used on seven Notices of Appearances she filed on behalf of her client as well as on other legal correspondence. Respondent filed these notices in seven different courts, including in the county in which she serves as a judge. Respondent also used her email address, which identified her as judge, to communicate with the Support Magistrate in Rensselaer County who was handling Mr. P’s matter as well as with opposing counsel in that matter. By using her judicial title in this way, respondent violated the Rules and lent the prestige of her office to benefit her client.”

Judge Robichaud was admonished in 2007 for taking too long to rule in 22 cases and failing to inform the court’s administrative staff of the delays as required.

The commission stated that with respect to the sanction to be imposed, Judge Robichaud’s prior discipline is
an aggravating factor.

The determination concludes:

“Given her prior admonition by the Commission, respondent should have been attentive to her obligation to comply with the Rules. In accepting the jointly recommended sanction of censure, we have taken
into consideration, that respondent has acknowledged that her conduct warrants public discipline. We trust that respondent has learned from this experience and in the future will act in strict accordance with her obligation to abide by all the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. By reason of the foregoing, the Commission determines that the appropriate disposition is censure.”

Judge Robichaud earned a law degree from the Albany School of Law. She has been a judge of Rensselaer City Court since 1996. Her current term expires on December 31, 2025.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.