Trials & Litigation

Cozen Partner Says NY Judge Put 'Wanted' Posters with His Face in Court, Drew Bull's-Eye on Photo


Updated: A New York judge is accused in a recusal filing of putting “wanted” posters featuring a Cozen O’Connor partner’s face in his courtroom and drawing a bull’s-eye on a photo of the lawyer’s face, months later, when asked to sign a trial transcript.

John McDonough and another partner at his law firm say Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Schack should recuse himself before a new trial is held in a big-bucks accident case against the Duane Reade drugstore chain that the Cozen firm is defending, according to the New York Daily News.

An earlier trial ended in an April mistrial, after which McDonough allegedly arrived in court one day to find more than a dozen of the “wanted” posters on the walls. Months later, the filing says, the 67-year-old judge drew a red bull’s-eye on a photo of McDonough’s face when partner Eric Berger asked Schack to sign a trial transcript and told Berger to give it to McDonough with his regards.

A previous Daily News article provides additional details and shows the bull’s-eye image at issue in the recusal matter.

Although the newspaper doesn’t identify McDonough as a Cozen partner, the photo in the bull’s-eye image appears to be an identical copy of the photo on McDonough’s law firm bio page and contains information in a printed caption indicating that the photo came from the law firm.

Opposing counsel Evan Torgan represents Shirly Miller in the case. She allegedly was left blind, paralyzed and brain-damaged after she was hit by a drugstore truck in 2008.

He called the wanted posters “a total joke” that McDonough found funny at the time, and noted that the mistrial was a victory for the Cozen firm.

The recusal filing, he contends, is “another intentional attempt to deprive my client of justice by delaying this case, in hope that she will die before they have to pay her.”

Partner Kenneth Fisher, who is overseeing the recusal matter, told the ABA Journal on Thursday that the Cozen firm did not seek a stay of the tort trial when it filed the recusal motion. He declined to comment further.

However, the Daily News notes that it was Judge Schack who initially scheduled a November hearing on the recusal motion— two months after the retrial of the accident case was supposed to begin. Following an appeal by McDonough, the recusal hearing was held Tuesday.

At last report, Schack had not decided whether to recuse himself.

Updated on Aug. 23 to include and accord with Fisher comment and provide additional information from Daily News coverage.

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