Months ago I blogged about [former] New York Judge Robert Restaino, who was removed from the bench after he flipped out when a cell phone rang in his courtroom and he couldn't identify the culprit. When no one would confess, he revoked or increased the bail of all the defendants before him, one by one.
Restaino has now lost his appeal — the New York State Court of Appeals found his removal appropriate based upon inexcusable behavior. That was the right call. The opinion is here. What is astonishing is that this guy's fit of pique lasted for so long — he had time to process dozens of defendants and reject pleas for reason and mercy:
Several defendants, when questioned about the instrument, tried to appeal to petitioner's better reason and, in some cases, pleaded with him for mercy. One defendant, for example, exhorted petitioner to rethink his approach to an otherwise legitimate courtroom concern that could be handled differently, stating: "I think the more people you send to jail, [the] less likely [the] culprit is to come forward," to which petitioner responded: "he'll go right to jail with everybody else." In other instances, one defendant pleaded that he had a doctor's appointment he would miss if jailed; others pleaded that they would lose their new jobs, that they did not have the resources to post bail. Others pleaded for simple fairness, exclaiming that "this ain't right," to which petitioner acknowledged: "You're right, it ain't right. Ain't right at all." Another had a scheduled appointment for counseling pursuant to an imposed condition, while another had his mother "in surgery [that] morning." Finally, another pleaded that he had a bi-weekly scheduled visit with his "little girl" that he would miss if jailed. These pleas fell on deaf ears.
The judge's ability to revoke bail, defendant after defendant, in a fit of wounded pride is nothing short of sadistic. His excuses are pathetic. He claims he was suffering stress from troubles in his marriage. Would he have accepted that as an excuse for the conduct of any of the defendants before him? No, I've seen conduct that is like this in kind, if not degree, too often. This is a judge who indulged his sense of power and entitlement, and only belatedly realized that what he had done would reflect poorly on him. Too late, too late.
I note that a number of organizations filed friend of the court briefs on his behalf. I further note that none of those organizations represents criminal defendants — the class of people that Robert Restaino vented upon, as an angry child will knock over toys.
He has no business on the bench.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Popehat Goes To The Opera: Un ballo in maschera - August 19th, 2017
- Department of Justice Uses Search Warrant To Get Data On Visitors to Anti-Trump Site - August 14th, 2017
- America At The End of All Hypotheticals - August 14th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: Why John Oliver Is Anti-Diversity Now - August 11th, 2017
- Anatomy of a Scam, Chapter 15: The Wheels, They Grind - August 10th, 2017