Town justice resigns after he's accused of making homophobic remarks

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A LeRay, New York, court justice who was accused of making homophobic and inappropriate remarks has agreed to resign and to never again seek or accept judicial office.

Judge John Hallett’s resignation is effective at the end of the month, report the New York Law Journal, the Albany Times Union, the Watertown Daily Times and a press release. In exchange for Hallett’s agreement, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct dismissed its ethics complaint against him.

Hallett told the Watertown Daily Times that he is not homophobic, but he thought it was best to resign to avoid controversy. He added that he is “very sorry I said what I said.”

The commission had alleged that Hallett made the inappropriate and homophobic remarks to senior assistant Jefferson County attorney Terence Brennen, who was promoting a film festival honoring actor Viggo Mortensen.

According to the ethics complaint, Hallett told Brennen in January 2017 that the film festival “is about the gayest thing I have ever heard.” Hallett also allegedly said: “You and Viggo Mortensen should get a hotel room and suck each other’s dicks.”

In June 2017, the commission alleged, Hallett made a gesture with his hand to his mouth to connote oral sex and then patted Brennen on the cheek. “There, there, little boy,” Hallett allegedly said.

Robert Tembeckjian, administrator of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said in a statement that “homophobic remarks and anti-LGBTQ sentiments have no place in the lexicon of the courts or the vocabulary of a judge.”

Hallett has been a LeRay town court justice since 2003 and is also a solo practitioner. He told the Watertown Daily Times that he enjoyed his job on the bench because it was a way to help people. “It was one of the great jobs of my career,” he said.

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