Home Dutchess County Investigation prevents new judge from holding court

Investigation prevents new judge from holding court

Investigation prevents new judge from holding court

HYDE PARK The New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics is still to deliberate on at least one complaint that was brought against the recently elected Hyde Park town justice, therefore he cannot preside over certain cases until November.

Conservative/Republican In November, incumbent Hyde Park Town Justice Jean McArthur was joined by former police officer Michael Plass in the election for Hyde Park Town Justice.

Mid-Hudson News has been informed by sources that Plass is limited to handling small claims court matters and landlord-tenant disputes. It is against the law for him to preside over cases involving criminal offenses and traffic infractions. Based on an examination of the Hyde Park Justice Court’s court calendars, the ban has caused Judge McArthur’s caseload to nearly double.

After Plass addressed a campaign mailing in which he made certain promises that are illegal under state law, a complaint was lodged against him with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Keeping drug traffickers off our streets and out of our hotels was one of his promises, along with his promise to prosecute those found guilty to the fullest extent of the law. Such promises are legally considered to be a sign of partiality and bias, which runs counter to the judge’s responsibilities.

(This link takes you to the October Mid-Hudson News story about the complaints made against Plass and the related statutes.)

Despite Plass’s inability to carry out his entire remit until the commission makes a determination, he continues to get his full salary of about $44,000 annually. Judge McArthur, his counterpart, is not getting paid more even though she is in charge of all the cases Judge Plass is not allowed to hear and her court agenda.

District Attorney Anthony Parisi of Dutchess County offered his perspective on the matter. In accordance with state law, we are aware of the problem in Hyde Park and are formulating a plan that will enable criminal proceedings to proceed promptly.

Margaret Walker, the recently appointed public defender for Dutchess County, is keeping an eye on the caseload alongside her assistant, who represents clients in Hyde Park Justice Court.

The New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics maintains the confidentiality of the status of its investigations and complaints. Public access to opinions and decisions about judicial conduct is restricted to the time after the decisions are made.

A request for comment from Judge Plass has not yet received a response.

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