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Judge may be moved after allegations involving ex-clerk

George Peck, a state Supreme Court justice who

George Peck, a state Supreme Court justice who has presided over Nassau criminal cases for years, may be reassigned to civil cases after allegations arose, sources said, that his former principal law clerk sexually harassed young female assistant district attorneys. Credit: Rick Kopstein

A state Supreme Court justice who has presided over Nassau criminal cases for years may be reassigned to civil cases after allegations arose, sources said, that his former principal law clerk sexually harassed young female assistant district attorneys.

Justice George Peck initially was reassigned to civil cases in a letter Friday from the state's deputy chief administrative judge for courts outside New York City, court spokesman David Bookstaver confirmed.

But Bookstaver said Tuesday that Peck's transfer to the civil side is now in question following the resignation Monday of Peck's principal law clerk, attorney John J. Marshall Jr. The spokesman declined to provide the letter from Judge Michael Coccoma and said it wasn't public.

Sources said the state courts' inspector general began investigating Marshall after a complaint from Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office that Marshall had made sexually inappropriate comments to female assistant district attorneys.

Sources said Marshall couldn't have been fired by the court system because he was the judge's personal appointee and the transfer would have removed Marshall from where the alleged conduct took place. They said Coccoma's letter alluded to reports of Marshall's alleged sexual harassment of female prosecutors and other female court staff, and Marshall's refusal to cooperate with the inquiry.

Marshall, in an interview, said he "vociferously" denies the allegations and called it disappointing "that in the court system of all places that you don't get any due process."

"I would still like to know who I sexually harassed and how. That's never been shared with me. I deny doing that," he said Tuesday.

Peck said Tuesday that the reassignment concerned a "personnel problem" regarding Marshall, whose resignation he confirmed. He wouldn't comment when asked about the allegations against Marshall.

Rice's office declined to comment Tuesday.

A past president of the Nassau Criminal Courts Bar Association, Marshall began working for Peck in 2012 after being a longtime criminal defense lawyer. Before that, he was a prosecutor in Queens.

In 1995, Peck was first elected to the district court bench after successfully prosecuting Long Island Rail Road gunman Colin Ferguson.

Peck became a Nassau prosecutor in 1968, serving in the Major Offense Bureau, and prosecuted many homicide cases.

Garden City attorney Brian Griffin said of Peck's possible move: "That's a wealth of experience that would be lost for the criminal justice system if he is transferred."

Peck said he would continue to preside Wednesday in a nonjury trial, a criminal case from 1993 involving the biggest bank heist in Nassau history and one that was said to have been the oldest case in New York awaiting trial.

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