New York chief judge's resignation is not tied to ethics probe, court spokesperson says

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Judge Janet DiFiore

Photo of Judge Janet DiFiore from the Historical Society of the New York Courts.

New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore says she’s not sure where her career is headed after her resignation becomes effective at the end of August.

DiFiore, 66, told the New York Times she was ready to pursue other opportunities and it was a “comfortable moment” to move on from her post with New York’s highest state court.

But Law360 broke the news about another possible factor: DiFiore is reportedly facing an ethics investigation for allegedly interfering with the disciplinary hearing of her frequent critic Dennis Quirk, the president of the New York State Court Officers Association. The association is the union representing court officers who provide security and maintain order.

The Law360 story is based on information from an anonymous source and documents obtained by the publication. The Wall Street Journal followed with its own story, which reported that the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct voted in June to serve DiFiore with the ethics complaint. Its story was also based on anonymous sources.

State court spokesperson Lucian Chalfen told Law360 that DiFiore’s decision to leave was not tied to the investigation. A lawyer for DiFiore agreed, telling the Wall Street Journal that DiFiore’s decision to step down was unrelated to the ethics complaint.

The commission does not have jurisdiction over judges who leave office, “meaning her resignation effectively ends the investigation,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times also mentions Quirk and refers to DiFiore’s “bitter conflict” with the union leader over COVID-19 vaccine mandates for court staff and her allegations of racism against the union.

Quirk told the Times he accused DiFiore of fostering a “systemic culture of intimidation” in a complaint filed with the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The hearing officer presiding in Quirk’s disciplinary hearing told Law360 that she forwarded to the judicial conduct commission a letter written by DiFiore. In the letter, DiFiore urged the hearing officer to punish Quirk for threatening to post private information about an alleged affair, according to Law360 and the Wall Street Journal..

Quirk was suspended from his job for 30 days last year after he posted DiFiore’s address online, according to the Times.

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