An Otsego County judge was publicly admonished by a state commission on Thursday for entering a local resident’s home without permission and posting photos of it on Facebook.
William Fisher, a justice of the Worcester Town Court, agreed to the admonition by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and pledged to be more careful about his social media use in the future, according to the commission’s decision.
The home Fisher entered previously belonged to relatives of his wife, who was a co-executrix of the estate, the commission said.
The home was sold in 2012 to a person not named in the decision. The buyer was behind on mortgage payments when Fisher entered her home without giving notice in January 2015, the commission said.
He took several photos of the home, which the commission said was in a state of disorder. He posted seven of those photos using his wife’s Facebook account with a caption that said his wife’s relatives “are turning over in their graves.”
The post was visible to the public, including the buyer who took screenshots of it on her phone.
In March 2017, the commission requested court records about three occasions when the buyer’s then-domestic partner was a defendant before the Worcester Town Court. The buyer was not mentioned in the letter.
Fisher replied to the commission’s request with the records along with several Facebook posts by the buyer, where she asked her friends to contact the commission about him, the commission said.
One month later, Fisher posted photos to his personal Facebook account from when he entered the buyer’s home without permission. He wrote in the post about how she had previously fallen behind on mortgage payments.
Fisher told the commission in July 2017 that he would immediately remove the post. He did not take the photos down until November 2017 and the post itself was public until February 2018.
“Judges carry with them the mantle of judicial office both on and off the bench,” said Robert Tembeckjian, administrator of the commission. “They must therefore always be mindful that inappropriate personal behavior may undermine public confidence in the judiciary and result in discipline, as it did here for Judge Fisher.”
Fisher has been a justice in Worcester Town Court since 1991. Michael Breen, an attorney with a practice in Middleburgh, New York, who represented Fisher, declined to comment on Thursday.