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Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Richard N. Allman reportedly faces removal from the bench for a physical altercation he had with an attorney this summer. In recent months, the judge’s attorney, Michael S. Ross, has tried to negotiate a lesser sanction — such as a public censure — with staff attorneys at the Commission on Judicial Conduct, who investigate and prosecute judicial disciplinary matters. Allman’s five-year career on the bench is otherwise unblemished, and numerous attorneys from both the defense and prosecution bars have agreed to vouch for his character in hopes of helping his cause. But the commission’s administrator and staff have refused to recommend a punishment less than dismissal, sources close to the matter said. Robert H. Tembeckjian, the commission’s administrator and counsel, declined to discuss the matter, citing privacy rules that govern the judicial disciplinary process. If Tembeckjian and his staff continue to press for Allman’s removal, the judge’s fate will be decided by the commission’s 11 members, who are appointed by the governor, the chief judge and the legislature, and act as a panel of judges. In June, Allman, 44, was presiding over a misdemeanor traffic violation when he got into verbal sparring with a Legal Aid Society attorney. The attorney, Stephen B. Terry, asked the judge to speak to him, not his client, and Allman told Terry to stop interfering with his questioning. The argument became more heated, with Allman raising his voice and saying, according to a transcript, “Did you go to law school, Terry? Did you go to law school, yes or no?” Moments later the judge, a veteran of the volatile domestic violence part who was known for placing defendants in anger-management programs, stepped down from the bench, walked over to Terry, put his hands on the attorney and began yelling at him. Just as quickly, he stopped and returned to the bench. “It was surreal,” Terry said. “All of a sudden it was like he came to. He regained consciousness.” Terry, who has been interviewed by the commission’s staff, said he thinks removal from the bench would be a just punishment. “I think his behavior was completely inappropriate, and I don’t think that kind of behavior should be tolerated,” he said. “He shouldn’t be a judge.” Others in the legal community, however, have come to the judge’s aid. More than 20 attorneys have agreed to speak on Allman’s behalf and back his reputation as a hard-working, careful judge who spent a lot of late hours at the courthouse. “It’s ironic that Judge Allman, above all people, is put in a position where his temperament is questioned,” said Wilson A. LaFaurie, a private practice defense attorney and former assistant district attorney who handles domestic violence cases. Judge Allman, he said, is stoic compared to many other judges. LaFaurie, who said he is not a friend of the judge, added, “I don’t think a judge should be removed for one incident like that.” Another attorney, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said the judge is “a thoughtful, sensitive and conscientious judge, and I’ve always found him to have the interest of the criminal justice system utmost in his mind when he conducts his courtroom.” Ross said Allman “deeply regrets” the incident, which he described as a “momentary lapse” among “thousands of hours of good judgment and dedicated hard work.” “An incident such as this will never be repeated,” Ross said. He declined to further discuss the commission’s investigation. Allman graduated from Pace Law School in 1985 and then joined Legal Aid, where he worked in the criminal appeals bureau. In 1990, he became principal law clerk to Acting Supreme Court Justice Phylis Skloot Bamberger. He remained in that position until he was appointed to the Criminal Court in 1999. Despite the good will on Allman’s behalf, he faces a tough road, especially since physical contact was involved. Increased scrutiny of the judiciary — especially in Brooklyn, home to a number of scandals in recent years — will not help his cause, said the attorney who is backing him. “The commission is under more of a microscope,” the attorney said. “That certainly doesn’t help this judge.”

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