Legal Ethics

Top state court OKs probate judge's removal from bench for overseeing cases involving friends

Suspended with pay last December, a longtime New York probate judge has now been removed from the bench by the state’s highest court because she did not step aside from cases involving friends.

Judge Cathryn Doyle argued that she did nothing wrong because her role in the Albany County Surrogate’s Court cases was ministerial. However, a divided New York Court of Appeals panel held that Doyle should have known from prior judicial ethics opinions on this issue that she should have recused herself, according to Courthouse News.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct provides a copy of the June 26 opinion (PDF) by the Court of Appeals, as well as its own removal determination (PDF). In both cases, at least one panel member dissented, saying that censuring Doyle would have been sufficient punishment.

Doyle declined to comment when contacted by the Altamonte Enterprise after oral arguments last month and she did not immediately respond to a message left Tuesday by the ABA Journal at an apparent home phone number listed on the Internet.

See also: “Panel seeks ouster of judge who didn’t reveal conflicts; she calls probate-court cases ‘ministerial’”

Times-Union: “Surrogate Court judge suspended”

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