MONTICELLO - The New York state Court of Appeals on Thursday suspended Sullivan County Court Judge Michael McGuire with pay pending the high court’s review of removal recommendation from a judicial conduct commission.
“On the Court's own motion, it is determined that Honorable Michael F. McGuire is suspended, with pay, effective immediately, from the offices of Judge of County and Surrogate's Courts, Sullivan County...pending review of a determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct,” read the decision issued Thursday with the concurrence of all seven justices on the state’s highest court.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which oversees judges, recommended McGuire’s removal for misconduct in a 66-page opinion issued March 26. In that opinion, the commission wrote that McGuire “wrongfully ordered people to jail and handcuffed Family Court litigants; often berated and yelled at court staff and litigants; presided in matters despite having a disqualifying conflict; impermissibly practiced law and used court staff to assist him; and otherwise misused court staff. He compounded it all with untruthful testimony during the Commission’s proceedings. “
McGuire, who has served on the Sullivan County bench since January 2011, disputed some elements of the findings but overall said he had mishandled some cases early in his judicial career, when many of the acts outline by the Commission happened, and acted inappropriately in some instances where the commission found he was verbally abusive to staff.
The Court of Appeals will make the ultimate determination of whether to remove McGuire from his judicial office.
McGuire is expected to take office in early May as County Attorney in Sullivan County, an appointment the county Legislature made after reviewing a draft of the Commission’s report McGuire provided to them.