33 Fordham Urb. L.J. 727 (2005-2006)
Prosecuting Judges for Ethical Violations: Are Criminal Sanctions Constitutional and Prudent, or Do They Constitute a Threat to Judicial Independence

handle is hein.journals/frdurb33 and id is 739 raw text is: PROSECUTING JUDGES FOR ETHICAL
VIOLATIONS: ARE CRIMINAL SANCTIONS
CONSTITUTIONAL AND PRUDENT, OR DO
THEY CONSTITUTE A THREAT TO
JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE?
Abraham Abramovsky*
Jonathan L Edelstein**
I. INTRODUCTION
On April 29, 2004, the Kings County Supreme Court made legal
history by dismissing eight counts of an indictment against then-
Justice Gerald Garson.1 In six of these counts, Justice Garson was
accused of receiving reward for official misconduct under Section
200.25 of the New York Penal Law, in that he allegedly obtained or
agreed to obtain a benefit in return for violating his duty as a pub-
lic servant.2 This is hardly an unusual charge to be leveled against
an allegedly corrupt public official, but in Justice Garson's case, the
duty he was accused of violating was based purely upon the New
York State Code of Judicial Ethics. Specifically, it was alleged that
Justice Garson acted criminally by conducting improper ex parte
communications and by accepting fees for referring unrelated cases
to a private attorney.
This was only the second time in New York, and the fourth time
anywhere in the United States,a that a judge was prosecuted for
violating ethical strictures that were not explicitly forbidden by a
* Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law. J.S.D., Columbia Uni-
versity, 1976; LL.M., Columbia University, 1972; J.D., Buffalo Law School, 1971. The
author participated in the defense of People v. Gerald Garson in the Kings County
Supreme Court.
** Attorney in private practice. J.D., Fordham University School of Law, 1997.
The author participated in the defense of People v. Gerald Garson in the Kings
County Supreme Court.
1. See People v. Garson, 775 N.Y.S.2d 827 (Sup. Ct. Kings County 2004), affd,
793 N.Y.S.2d 539 (App. Div. 2005), leave to appeal granted, 834 N.E.2d 1266 (N.Y.
2005).
2. Id. at 830; see also N.Y. PENAL LAw § 200.25 (McKinney 2005).
3. See infra notes 16-39 and accompanying text.
4. See infra notes 41-49, 98-187 and accompanying text.

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