On Monday, April 10, 2023, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced that a state Supreme Court Justice dismissed a lawsuit filed by Poughkeepsie City Court Judge Frank Mora against Stacey Koch who had lodged a complaint against Mora to the Commission.
According to court documents, Judge Mora brought his son to an ophthalmology office on December 28, 2021, where a dispute arose between Mora and Koch, the office manager, due to Mora’s unwillingness to wear a face mask while in the office. Koch wrote certain statements to the Commission and submitted them via a complaint form.
In December 2022, Mora sued Koch claiming that Koch’s statements were false, libelous, and defamatory. Mora further claimed that Koch’s statements caused him “emotional distress, humiliation, shame, and embarrassment and required him to answer false claims before the Commission designed to investigate judicial misconduct. Mora sought compensatory and punitive damages of $425,000.00 on a single cause of action for defamation.
Due to its distinct and significant interest in defending the integrity of its investigations against attempts to discourage witnesses from coming forward or cooperating, the Commission intervened in the lawsuit.
Judge Rosa dismissed Mora’s lawsuit upon the motion of Koch and the Commission. Judge Rosa also set a hearing for April 27, 2023, to determine the fees and costs to be assessed against Judge Mora.
Robert H. Tembeckjian, the administrator of the Commission stated that Judge Mora’s lawsuit “was ill-considered and should never have been brought.”
“Judge Rosa’s decision underscores the long-settled principle that complainants have absolute immunity against lawsuits for defamation when they address the commission on official business,” Tembeckjian added.
Judge Mora attended the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys Law School, graduating in 1996. His courtroom is located at the Poughkeepsie City Court, 62 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, and can be reached at +1-845-483-8200.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.