New York top court doesn’t see C-word as a compliment, orders judge’s ouster
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New York’s top court has ordered the ouster of a part-time judge who referred to a lawyer as a "c- - - on wheels" and "eyelashes" in emails to clients.
The judge is Paul Senzer of the Northport Village Court of Suffolk County, who used the “degrading and profane language” while representing two clients in family court, according to the June 23 opinion by the New York Court of Appeals.
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended Senzer’s removal from the bench. According to the commission, Senzer used the offensive language in emails to two clients seeking the right to represent their grandchild.
Senzer had called the daughter a “bitch” and an “asshole” and referred to the daughter and her ex-husband as “scumbags,” according to the commission. And he described a court referee as an “asshole.”
The lawyer whom Senzer called a “c- - - on wheels” and “eyelashes” had represented the daughter.
Senzer didn’t deny using the language but contended that his use of the words in private communications doesn’t warrant his removal from office.
In oral arguments, Senzer’s lawyer had argued that the phrase “c- - - on wheels” was a “term of art” describing an aggressive lawyer, and it could even be seen as “a left-handed compliment.”
The New York Court of Appeals was not persuaded.
Senzer’s statements “were manifestly vulgar and offensive, and his repeated use of such language in written communications to insult and demean others involved in the legal process showed a pervasive disrespect for the system, conveyed a perception of disdain for the legal system, and indicated that he is unable to maintain the high standard of conduct we demand of judges,” the court said.
The court labeled “particularly concerning” Senzer’s use of a gendered slur and the term “eyelashes” to describe the female lawyer.
The court said Senzer had received a prior caution from the commission for sarcastic and disrespectful comments to litigants. His latest statements “cannot be explained as an isolated or spontaneous slip of the tongue” because they were made repeated times in “deliberative, written communications” over several months.
The pattern of conduct “constitutes an unacceptable and egregious pattern of injudicious behavior,” the court said.