ALBANY — A judicial oversight panel has recommended the removal of Northport Village Justice Paul Senzer for using “sexist, profane and otherwise degrading language” in a series of emails with clients.
Senzer, a village justice since 1994, repeatedly used extremely vulgar language while representing clients in a Family Court matter, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct found in its investigation.
In a report released Thursday, the commission said it concluded Senzer’s “misconduct is not simply the occasional use of vulgar language, but a pattern of statements.”
“It is simply unacceptable for a judge to demean women with vile and otherwise abhorrent language. Doing so reveals prejudice and undermines public confidence in the administration of justice,” Robert Tembeckjian, commission administrator, said in a statement. “It should be clear that a person who cavalierly uses gender-based slurs does not belong on the bench.”
During the investigation which began in late 2017, David Besso, Senzer’s attorney, told the panel the justice’s emails should be considered private and not sanctionable. Or, at worst, it merited a warning, not removal from office.
Besso said the commission overreached Thursday and that he'd ask the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, to reject the commission's recommendation to remove the judge.
"We were very surprised by the decision. I consider this to be one of the biggest miscarriages of justice with regards to the commission's findings," Besso said. "Judge Senzer has an unblemished record on the bench. The allegations have nothing to do with his judicial duties. The statements were made as a private attorney in the heat of litigation. He has expressed considerable remorse."
Besso said the communications flagged by the commission occurred a decade ago and that "there's been no other allegations at all."
But in its report, the commission noted Senzer had been warned before, in 2002, about making remarks in court about a defendant amid a marijuana trial.
The village justice post is a part-time position, paying $10,000 annually, the commission said. Senzer’s current term is set to expire March 31, 2022. He also works as a hearing officer in the Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency.