New York judge admonished over campaign pledges

Kathy Woods Feb. 17, 2010, 11:47pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline)-New York Supreme Court Justice Patrick McGrath has been admonished by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct for misrepresenting his jurisdiction and making improper pledges or promises during his campaign for Supreme Court justice.

McGrath 56, a Democrat, defeated Justice Anthony Carpinello in the November 2008 election.

During his campaign, McGrath sent out letters addressed to "Fellow Pistol Permit Holder." The letter insinuated that he would be the sole person in charge of signing pistol permit and pistol amendments.

The letter stated in part: "As your county judge for the past 14 years, I have been responsible for all pistol permits in Rensselaer County. My pistol permit is very important to me as I know yours is to you. I work closely on a daily basis with the pistol permit clerk to make sure all permits and amendments are handled in a timely fashion. Since 1994, I have signed more than 20,000 permits and amendments."

It further stated; "As a Supreme Court Justice I will still be responsible for all pistol permits in Rensselaer County."

McGrath knew at the time that any judge or justice in the county could sign off on the permits.

McGrath had been previously admonished for commenting on a murder trial on national television while running for re-election back in 2004. Therefore, the Commission says he "should have been especially sensitive to the ethical rules."

In their admonishment, the Commission said McGrath "made improper pledges or promises" to pistol permit holders and "misrepresented his jurisdiction over such permits."

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