A town court justice from St. Lawrence County has been admonished by the Commission on Judicial Conduct for identifying himself as a judge while witnessing a police statement for an acquaintance.
The commission said in a determination released Tuesday that Norfolk Town Court Justice Donald Lustyik acknowledged that he improperly “lent the prestige of his judicial office for the private benefit” of the man and “implicitly invoked his judicial office” by signing his name to the statement with the title “Hon” before his signature.
Lustyik, a non-lawyer who has been a justice since 1986, cooperated with the commission’s investigation and recognized that he was wrong to witness the statement, the determination said.
The acquaintance’s stepdaughter said in the state police statement that she had never been sexually abused by her stepfather. It disavowed earlier statements accusing her stepfather of abuse—statements the woman said she was tricked into making.
“Witnessing the statement put respondent in the middle of a serious situation in which he would play a part in protecting an acquaintance from accusations of sexual abuse,” the commission said. “Respondent, who had been a judge for 25 years, should have recognized that his judicial status was being use in that effort and that his conduct would convey that appearance.”
Twelve of the commission members agreed on admonishment as the proper sanction.
Commission member Richard Emery, an attorney at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, said the facts that Lustyik stipulated to raised more questions than they answered about the justice’s activities and urged the commission in a dissent to investigate further.