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On Sept. 28, the headline of the Law Journal article reporting the discontinuance by the Commission on Judicial Conduct of its case against me, read: ” Judge Admits Single Charge of Misconduct ,” and the body of the story had references to the “admission.” The headline, the drophead and the story were wrong. There was no admission of misconduct, and the story had other inaccuracies: The body of the story has five references either to such “admission” or that I “acknowledged” violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. I neither admitted nor acknowledged violating anything in the broadest possible sense of “violating.” The drophead, “No Sanction to Be Levied Before End of Term,” could imply that a sanction would take effect after my term ended. That is wrong. I was not and will not be sanctioned in any respect. The first paragraph reads: “Judge Marian R. Shelton, after vigorously contesting charges of misconduct, cut a deal yesterday with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct . . . ” The statement that I “ cut a deal” is wrong. The commission offered a settlement to me in which it discontinued its case with no sanction imposed, no effect on the continuation of my term as a judge, and no admission of any violation. I accepted. The story states that the commission “agreed to forego charges against [me] in exchange for an agreement to never return to the bench . . . ” There was no such agreement. When two days earlier my counsel and I left Supreme Court after signing the Stipulation of Discontinuance, we, five experienced attorneys, believed correctly that we had with entire success ended the Commission on Judicial Conduct’s improperly brought and pursued investigation of my conduct as a judge. Expecting that the commission would adhere to the non-disparagement terms of the stipulation, I instructed my principal counsel to limit his press response to the stipulation. Since the commission’s administrator did not so limit himself, and as I believe it important that my colleagues at the bench and bar understand the actuality reflected in the stipulation, rather than commission “spin” that I admitted to misconduct, I suggest readers review the stipulation as it appears on the commission’s web-site. Here, in greater detail, is what occurred: � The commission approached me with an offer of settlement; I never sought to settle with it. � The offer to settle was made while the Supreme Court was considering my Article 78 petition in which I charged that the commission’s handpicked hearing referee be replaced because of both the appearance of impropriety (among other relationships, he had worked at the commission for six years with the very attorneys who were prosecuting the case against me) and actual impropriety (in stating that he felt compelled to complete the case before my term ended, he concealed that his compulsion was based on a conversation with a staff member of the commission). � The settlement imposes no sanction. � I have neither resigned nor been removed. I remain on the bench until completion of my term. Since the article correctly noted that I “previously disclosed” I would not seek reappointment, I have given up nothing. � Although I will soon be on to pastures new, I am not barred from again serving as a judge. If I ever decide to return I face only the same charges the commission was so willing to jettison. � There is no “admission” other than as to selected facts I had already admitted in my answer, which is part of the stipulation. As to the charge asserted by the commission on the basis of these facts, its position (as I understand it) is that even a single instance of a judge’s purported failure to follow procedural rules in use of the contempt power is an ethical violation. Thus, where a judge (me) places for “several minutes in a holding cell” a visitor (she) to the courtroom who, after interrupting the work of the court, is directed to leave and calls the judge (me) an “asshole,” it is me, not she, whose conduct is questioned. While the stipulation “does not contest” this position, some of your readers may think the commission is looking into the wrong end of the telescope.

Marian R. Shelton The author is a Family Court judge in the Bronx.

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