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Legal Ethics

Commission: NY Judge Should Be Censured for Taking $250,000 Gift and Loan from Lawyer for Campaign

Posted Oct 10, 2012 11:45 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Manhattan surrogate judge and a New York lawyer were never convicted after they were criminally charged, shortly before she took office in 2008, with campaign violations.

Eight of the 10 charges against Judge Nora Anderson and Brooklyn attorney Seth Rubenstein were later dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and the two were acquitted on the remaining two counts in 2010, Reuters reports. (A New York Times article linked below reported during their 2010 trial that Anderson's claims she used her own money for the election campaign, the defense said, were in fact true.)

However, the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct on Wednesday recommended that Anderson be censured for accepting a $100,000 personal gift and another $150,000 personal loan in 2008 from Rubenstein, who was then her employer, as well as her friend.

By using the money for her surrogate's court campaign, Anderson did an end run around legal limits for campaign donations from those who aren't family members, the commission said in its written determination. It also said she failed to report the loan, of which she has repaid only $14,000, on a mandatory disclosure form to the Ethics Commission of the Unified Court System.

The commission said Anderson was an inexperienced judicial candidate and accepted responsibility, which it considered as mitigating factors when it recommended the censure.

She has 30 days to decide whether to protest the penalty to the state Court of Appeals.

Related coverage:

New York Times: "Manhattan Judge’s Trial Raises Thorny Election Law Issues Concerning Gifts"

New York Times: "Manhattan Surrogate’s Court Judge Is Acquitted"

New York Law Journal (sub. req.): "Home Surrogate Acquitted in Election Law Case"

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