On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined that Terry B. Elia, a Justice of the Lloyd Town Court, Ulster County, should be censured for making inappropriate LinkedIn posts and for serving as a “peer support member” of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team.

The judge was charged with violating Sections 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(C), 100.3(B)(8),100.4(A)(1) and (2), 100.4(C)(3)(b)(iv) and 100.5(A)(1)(c) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, which states:

Judges are prohibited from engaging in extra-judicial activities that “cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge” or “detract from the dignity of judicial office.”

Every judge must understand that a judge’s right to speak publicly is limited because of the important responsibilities a judge has in dispensing justice, maintaining impartiality, and acting at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judge’s integrity.

According to the determination, for nearly a year between 2020-21, Judge Elia liked at least 12 posts, comments, or articles in favor of law enforcement and listed several law enforcement-related groups as “interests” on his public LinkedIn page. For around 10 years, Judge Elia worked with the Ulster County Sheriff’s office, providing counseling to first responders. He also “liked” six partisan political posts or comments.

The Commission stated that Judge Elia acted in a manner that was inconsistent with his obligations to maintain high standards of conduct and “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The filing reads:

“By aligning himself with law enforcement personnel both through his public LinkedIn activity and through his association with the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, respondent, a judge in Ulster County, undermined public confidence in the judiciary and cast doubt on his ability to act impartially when he presided over matters which involved law enforcement personnel.”

The Commission noted that Judge Elia acknowledged that his conduct was improper and warranted public discipline.

The filing states:

“In accepting the jointly recommended sanction of censure, we have taken into consideration that respondent has no prior disciplinary history in his 24 years on the bench, took corrective action upon receiving the Commission’s inquiry letter and acknowledged that his conduct was improper and warrants public discipline. We trust that respondent has learned from this experience and in the future will act in strict accordance with his obligation to abide by all the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.

By reason of the foregoing, the Commission determines that the appropriate disposition is censure.”

The Commission transmitted its determination to the Acting Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. A judge may either accept the Commission’s determination or, within 30 days from receipt, make a written request to the Acting Chief Judge for a review of the determination by the Court of Appeals. If Judge Elia does not request a review by the Court of Appeals, the Commission will censure him in accordance with the determination.

Judge Elia, who is not an attorney, has been a Justice of the Lloyd Town Court since 1998. His current term expires on December 31, 2025.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.