A village justice in New York was censured for following a motorist for more than a mile, pulling the man over by flashing his high beams and using a badge to persuade the driver to turn himself in to police to face two traffic citations.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Wednesday that it was censuring Hudson Falls Village Justice Michael Feeder.
Feeder told the commission that he saw the driver fail to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Feeder was in contact with police as he followed the other driver, and presented a badge bearing the words "Town Justice" after pulling the man over.
The driver agreed to go see police. Feeder followed him to the police station and signed a complaint against him. The driver received a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian and for driving while using a cell phone and paid a $25 fine.
The censure is the equivalent of a public scolding.
"He's looking forward to staying on the bench," said Lee Kindlon, an attorney representing Feeder. "Given that the lawyers on the bench were pushing very hard to have him removed, with this outcome, we're happy."
According to the commission, Feeder also commented publicly about the motorist's case while it was pending.
"I've made a lot of mistakes, and I acknowledge that before this board," Feeder said before the commission, according to a transcript. "In every case when the commission has called me to ask me questions, I've come away from every one of those sessions and examined my behavior, my actions and my thoughts. I've taken it upon myself on many occasions to change how I do things."
In another case, the commission found that Feeder decided against sentencing a defendant to jail after having an out-of-court conversation with the mother of the accused. In a third case, Feeder was found to have granted adjournment in contemplation of dismissal without getting the required consent of the prosecutor.
Feeder also presided over cases filed by members of the Hudson Falls Police Department without disclosing his close friendship with the assistant chief of police, who personally appeared before the judge in at least one case.
The commission decided 6-3 to censure Feeder, with the minority voting for his removal from the bench. Another commission member wasn't present.
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