On Friday, November 18, 2022, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined that John M.
Aronian, a Justice of the North Salem Town Court, Westchester County, should be admonished for repeatedly identifying himself as a judge in support of a neighboring couple who were applying for pistol permits.

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 act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

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

On July 13, 2022, Aronian was served with a Formal Written Complaint, alleging that from May 2020 to October 2020 Judge Aronian completed two Character Reference Letters on behalf of his court clerk and her husband, who were his neighbors and were applying for unrestricted pistol licenses. He listed his title as “Judge” on each letter even though he is a part-time justice and a practicing attorney. Judge Aronian personally called the Westchester County Court to ask about the appeals procedure after his court clerk’s application was turned down. On court stationery, he then addressed a letter to the judge hearing the case, portraying himself as a town justice. The appeal was denied.

According to the Commission, when Judge Aronian invoked his judicial status and used his judicial stationery to write to the County Court judge to advocate reconsideration of the denial of his court clerk’s application, Judge Aronian created the improper appearance that he expected special treatment and deference because of his status as a judge.

The filing states:

“In accepting the jointly recommended sanction of admonition, we have taken into consideration that respondent has 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 admonition.”

The Commission transmitted its determination to the 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 Chief Judge for a review of the determination by the Court of Appeals.

Judge Aronian, who is an attorney, has been a Justice of the North Salem Town Court since 2016. His current term expires on December 31, 2023.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.