A Nassau judge will no longer hear matrimonial cases after he was transferred following complaints from attorneys that included allegations questioning his fairness, sources familiar with the situation said.
State Supreme Court Justice Edward Maron is moving from the county’s matrimonial center to preside over cases in the court’s main building, Nassau courts spokesman Dan Bagnuola confirmed. That part of the Supreme Court, also in Mineola, generally handles civil cases involving matters seeking damages greater than $25,000.
Court officials declined to comment on Maron’s transfer and noted it is customary for some judges to be moved to different assignments before a new year starts.
“The new judicial assignments, as a matter of course, will be released to the public at the start of the new term on January 4,” state courts spokesman David Bookstaver said.
Maron, of Hewlett, is a Democrat who won election to the State Supreme Court bench in 2008.
“I have proudly served as a judge for 16 years with integrity and independence,” Maron, 75, said Friday in a statement. “I have taken my responsibilities seriously and have strived to serve families in crisis to the best of my ability. Fairness and respect for litigants and attorneys are of paramount importance to me.”
Some of the complaints from attorneys also involved accusations of favoritism, according to the sources.
Appellate court filings from recent months show a Garden City law firm appealed to a higher court after Maron refused to recuse himself from a custody case.
The firm Gassman Baiamonte Betts PC claimed Maron had a “patent animus” toward them after his “unfavorable experience” with a bar association committee in May.
The papers allege Maron told attorney Stephen Gassman privately that he intensely resented matrimonial attorneys who were on that committee, which included Rosalia Baiamonte, one of the Garden City firm’s members, but that Maron refused to recuse himself from the firm’s cases.
Baiamonte was vice chair of that committee, which found Maron “not approved at this time” during a screening related to a process that certifies Supreme Court justices to work past the usual retirement age of 70.
“Justice Maron’s bitterness is so unrelenting, that just moments after he professed to Mr. Gassman that there was no need for his recusal, he could not help but again express his utter contempt for the . . . committee and its matrimonial members,” the filings read in part.
Maron later won the committee’s approval after another hearing, the court papers show.
The law firm declined to comment.
Among attorneys speaking in Maron’s favor Friday was Jan Murphy, who said she represented the children involved in the same appellate case. She said she “never saw him be biased.”
What was unfair, Murphy said, was for cases involving children to recently be taken away from Maron after the children, who are “being asked to tell their innermost secrets,” had come to trust him.
Attorney Jeffrey Halbreich also called his experiences in Maron’s courtroom positive.
“I feel my clients and myself have always been treated fair,” the Baldwin attorney said Friday.
Maron was elected as a district court judge in 1999, and re-elected in 2005 before he was appointed as an acting Nassau County court judge.
While a district court judge, Maron was among a group of judges who filed a lawsuit against the State Legislature seeking a pay increase for all state judges — a lawsuit that was dismissed in 2007. The suit had argued that judges’ low pay could threaten their independence.