ALBANY – The state’s highest court on Thursday suspended an embattled Monroe Town Court justice who was arrested earlier this year for obstruction of justice and making false statements.
In a unanimous decision, the New York Court of Appeals announced that it would continue the June 27 suspension without pay of Lurlyn Winchester from the office of justice of Monroe Town Court in Orange County, effective immediately.
Winchester, an attorney with an office in New City initially was suspended, with pay, by the Court of Appeals on June 27, weeks after federal prosecutors charged her with filing false documents to buy a home in Monroe to establish the residency requirement to serve on the bench in Monroe, and falsifying records to obstruct the investigation (NYLJ, June 7).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York alleged that Winchester, who was elected in 2013, falsified a home loan application for a condo that would fulfill the state’s residency requirements for judges. After the loan provider threatened not to issue the loan, Winchester produced fraudulent documents, including $9,000 worth of checks, so that it would appear that her home in New City in Rockland County was being rented, prosecutors said. Despite securing the loan for the condo, Winchester still used her home in New Cityas her primary residence. The Court of Appeals can issue a suspension order for a judge if he or she is charged with a felony or charged with a crime that would be considered a felony in New York, said Robert Tembeckjian, the administrator for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. A suspension order can also be issued if the judge shows moral turpitude or is subject to a removal decision by the commission, he said.
Winchester was elected to a four-year term as a town justice in 2013 and had a $38,000 salary. Despite facing felony charges, Winchester sought re-election, but the Orange County Board of Elections invalidated her petitions because they were flawed, according to the Times Herald-Record.
Winchester’s attorney, Clinton Calhoun III of Calhoun & Lawrence. a White Plains-based criminal law and corporate compliance law firm, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on whether his client would appeal the decision.