Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crazed judge gets bounced

In what the chairman of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct describes as “two hours of inexplicable madness,” Niagara Falls City Court Robert M. Restaino jailed 46 defendants one after another because some unknown person in the courtroom allowed a cellphone to ring in violation of the rules. Eleven of the jailed defendants had already been released and were just awaiting the end of court proceedings; Restaino rescinded their releases as part of the mass punishment.

This happened on March 11, 2005. The commission only now got around to recommending Restaino's removal from the bench. He's been deciding people's fate, doling out liberty and imprisonment uninterrupted, since that day. He remains in office while he appeals the decision to remove him.

Look, I appreciate the commission's action, and its entirely proper decision to remove an impulsive lunatic from the bench. But two years to decide this case after the man threw a temper tantrum that put 46 people behind bars? Is the State Commission on Judicial Conduct really that backed up? If so, New Yorkers have a lot more to worry about than just one (in the commission's words) "petty tyrant."



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