B’klyn judge probed
BY ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO
September 24, 2004, 4:58 PM EDT
A Brooklyn criminal court judge is under investigation for an incident over the summer in which he allegedly stepped down from the bench and placed his hand on an attorney he was arguing with, said an attorney representing the jurist.
Richard N. Allman, considered by lawyers to be a mild mannered criminal court judge with a good reputation, is being probed by the state Commission of Judicial Conduct, the judge’s attorney, Michael S. Ross, said Friday.
In a telephone interview, Ross confirmed that the investigation was underway but quarreled with a media report that characterized the incident as a “physical altercation.” However, the attorney declined to elaborate or give a different explanation for what happened. News of the investigation of Allman, 44, was reported Friday in the New York Law Journal.
“It is the only case anybody can remember when a judge put his hand on somebody,” said one prominent Brooklyn attorney who asked not to be identified.
Allman reportedly got into a heated argument with Legal Aid Society attorney Stephen B. Terry during a hearing over a traffic violation in June. It was during that hearing that Allman allegedly stepped down from the bench and put his hands on Terry, yelled at him and returned to the bench.
Terry, who works in Legal Aid’s downtown Brooklyn office, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. Robert Tembeckjian, the administrator for the Commission on Judicial Conduct also couldn’t be reached for comment.
While the commission staff has reportedly pushed for Allman’s removal from the bench despite an attempt by Ross to negotiate a less severe punishment, the matter is far from resolved. Under commission rules, the judicial watchdog body can override its own staff recommendations.
The commission is enpowered to recommend a wide range of punishments for judges, from a private admonition to removal. Punishments can be appealed to the state Court of Appeals, which can make the final determination. It is not uncommon, however, for the commission staff and judges under investigation to negotiate dispositions of a case and agree as to the facts of a case, legal sources said.
Copyright (c) 2004, Newsday, Inc.