Judge who told litigant he 'symbolizes everything that's wrong with the world' is tossed from case

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A New York judge who sent a Long Island man to jail for four months for failing to pay child support has been tossed from the case because of his courtroom comments.

The Nassau County judge, Thomas Rademaker, “took an adversarial stance toward the father and made numerous improper remarks,” according to the decision last Wednesday by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division. Courthouse News Service covered the decision.

Rademaker had ordered the jailing of the father, Michael Berg, in November 2016 and said he could win his release by paying nearly $518,000 to satisfy his obligations.

Rademaker told Berg that he “symbolizes everything that’s wrong with the world today,” according to the opinion. He called Berg “selfish,” “self-interested,” “lazy” and “arrogant.” He said Berg was the last guy he would “want to be in a foxhole with” because he would “fold like a cheap suit.”

Rademaker also “made the matter personal by comparing the father’s experiences to the judge’s own,” the appeals court said. “For instance, the judge described his own past misfortune and detailed how he picked himself up to become a judge.”

The appeals court ordered a new judge to consider whether Berg had willfully failed to pay child support.

The appeals court said Berg had not moved for a recusal, which meant the bias issue was not preserved for appellate review. The court said it was nonetheless considering the issue of bias “in the interest of justice.”

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