Judiciary

Regional chief judge steps down from administrative role because of Halloween party photo

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Gavel hanging on hook

Photo illustration by Sara Wadford/Shutterstock.

A regional chief judge in New York has stepped down from his administrative role because of a photo of himself at a Halloween party in 1988.

Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, said in a statement he appeared in the photo as a “well-known public figure of color,” report the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Syracuse.com and WXXI News.

The stories say it’s unclear which public figure he portrayed.

Doran will continue to serve as an elected judge. He was elected to a 10-year term to the trial-level supreme court in 2015 and previously served as a judge for Ontario County, New York.

Doran apologized for his behavior in the statement.

“I did not comprehend at the time the hurtful nature of my actions,” Doran said. “I know now that an act of this nature is considered to be racist. I can assure you that this event in 1988 in no way reflects my beliefs and principles.”

Doran was in his 20s at the time and had not yet graduated from Albany Law School when the photo was taken, according to Syracuse.com.

“I ask for forgiveness from these who have been hurt by this, those I may have embarrassed, and from the people who have taken time in their lives to educate me about the hurt my actions caused.” Doran said.

Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for New York’s Office of Court Administration, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that New York’s chief judge and chief administrative judge told Doran that he had to resign from his administrative role.

The Rochester Black Bar Association and the Monroe County Bar Association criticized Doran’s insensitive behavior at the party in statements but noted that he has backed diversity initiatives, according to WXXI News.

The Rev. Lewis Stewart of the United Christian Leadership Ministry told WXXI News that he had worked with Doran to address implicit bias in the court system, including ways to increase diversity of jury pools.

“I can say unequivocally that Judge Doran is not a racist,” Stewart said. “Many of us are not who we were over 33 years ago.”

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