ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A judge who was convicted of drunken driving, who was jailed after skipping a court date while visiting Thailand and who told a sheriff’s deputy to shoot or punch a rowdy defendant should be removed from the bench, a state judicial commission said Tuesday.
Embattled Rochester city court Judge Leticia Astacio has shown she is unfit for office by the “totality of (her) misbehavior” since her 2016 arrest for DWI, according to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. Astacio hasn’t heard cases since her arrest, but she has drawn her $174,000-a-year salary and her brushes with the law have repeatedly made headlines.
The commission noted that Astacio violated her one-year conditional discharge for DWI twice, once by trying to start her car while testing positive for alcohol on its ignition interlock device.
Astacio failed to provide a court-ordered alcohol test in May 2017 and failed to appear in court as ordered. Her lawyer at the time explained that Astacio was unaware of the required test because she was at a monastery in Thailand and unreachable by phone. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years’ probation.
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While still on the bench, Astacio, told a deputy that he should “tase,” ”shoot” or “punch” a defendant “in the face.” In a sexual abuse case, she laughed when a defense attorney said that the alleged victim had “buyer’s remorse,” a comment she later described as “freakin’ hilarious,” the commission said.
“Each of these acts is serious individually. In their totality, they reveal a judge who is unfit to remain on the bench,” commissioner administrator Robert Tembeckjian told a news conference in Rochester.
Astacio has 30 days to seek an appeal. Her current lawyer, Robert Julian, said he would speak to Astacio and they would consider an appeal.
New York state’s highest court suspended Astacio with pay earlier this month after authorities say she tried to buy a shotgun in violation of her probation.
Astacio, a Democrat, was elected to a 10-year term in 2014.