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Embattled Rochester judge removed from the bench

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WXXI News
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A Rochester judge convicted of drunken driving and deemed guilty of other misconduct has been removed from the bench by the state's highest court.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the state Commission of Judicial Conduct's recommendation that Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio no longer be allowed to serve as a judge. Astacio had appealed the commission's recommendation, saying she instead should have been censured.

Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran, who also is the Seventh Judicial District administrative judge, issued the following statement:

“For more than 2.5 years, one matter has dominated much of the public’s attention and conversation regarding our court system. During this time, hundreds of judges and staff have come to work each day, ready to deliver justice in thousands of cases involving many of the most challenging issues facing our neighborhoods, schools and businesses.

“This unfortunate distraction has not hindered the critically important work done on a daily basis, by the highly competent and caring judges, and dedicated court staff serving the people of this community.

“We are grateful for the honor to serve the Judiciary, and we invite the public to continue their interest in the courts and focus upon the extraordinary work done in our courthouses every day — upholding the law and assuring that justice prevails.”

Robert H. Tembeckjian, administrator of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, made the following statement:

“It is never a pleasant duty to remove a judge from office. Where the misconduct is egregious, there is little choice, if public confidence in the administration of justice is to be preserved. The Commission respects and appreciates that the Court of Appeals has affirmed its determination that Judge Astacio was unfit to remain on the bench.”

Astacio, a Democrat, was elected to the $187,000-a-year-judge's job in 2014.

She was charged in 2016 with driving while intoxicated. After her conviction on the charge, she failed to follow the conditions of court orders and was briefly jailed because of violations. The state court also cited instances of misconduct on the bench for its decision.

According to the city, Mayor Lovely A. Warren said Tuesday that she will appoint a judicial screening committee to fill the City Court vacancy. It will be chaired by the city's corporation counsel and include:

  • A community member at large
  • The president of the Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys or their designee
  • The president of the Rochester Black Bar Association or their designee
  • The president of the Monroe County Bar Association or their designee
  • A retired local judge
  • A practicing local attorney

The committee will interview local attorneys interested in being appointed to City Court and forward three names to Warren for her consideration to fill the vacancy. Warren has asked the committee, once convened, to complete their work within 30-60 days.
A newly appointed judge will have to run for election in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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