From: Peter Burns <email@example.com>
Subject: US - Judge accused of taking bribes in divorce cases to face
Judge accused of taking bribes in divorce cases to face trial
By MICHAEL GORMLEY
Associated Press Writer
March 30, 2006, 11:56 AM EST
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A state judge accused three years ago of accepting
$10 cigars, meals and drinks several times a week, as well as gifts
cash as bribes in divorce cases, will now face trial.
The Court of Appeals on Thursday struck down former Justice Gerald
Garson's argument that his alleged actions broke rules of conduct,
A lower state court and the state Appellate Division agreed the
former Brooklyn state Supreme Court justice didn't have to face six
of receiving rewards for official misconduct, a felony.
But Thursday the state's highest court said there's enough evidence
accuse Garson of taking gifts for putting the fix in for certain
Garson is accused of accepting a box of cigars worth $272 for
advising a lawyer on how to handle a divorce case being heard by the
judge. The judge is also accused of accepting payments of between
more than $1,000, some of which was paid to the judge's wife, for
referring clients to the same lawyer.
"It is simply incorrect that judges are immune from the criminal
if the Rules of Judicial Conduct do not authorize a criminal action,"
stated the 6-1 decision by Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick.
Garson's attorney, Diamuid White, said a trial had already been
scheduled for June on charges that hadn't been dismissed in the case,
charges will be added.
Garson is among the Brooklyn judges investigated in a scandal that
involved various charges, including bribery and misconduct. In 2004,
Brooklyn businessman Avraham Levi pleaded guilty to paying an
in the investigation, Nissim Elmann, $10,000 to influence Garson's
decision in a divorce and child custody case.
The evidence included videotapes and audio recordings of Garson
allegedly arranging and accepting payments. The divorce lawyer who
practiced before Garson, Paul Siminovsky, allegedly handed the judge
$1,000 in an envelope in marked bills in the judge's private "robing
for two referrals, according to the court decision citing audio and
"Make sure that doesn't fall out of your pocket," Siminovsky told the
"It's not going to fall out for at least an hour or two," the judge
said, according court records. "Then it is gone."
In another recorded conversation, the judge said that Siminovsky
win the case, even though he didn't deserve it, according to the
decision. In that 2002 case, the judge instructed the lawyer to
subpoena an expert witness and the judge told the lawyer what
ask, according to the court decision. The judge also said he wouldn't
order the sale of the house owned by a couple, and would make sure
Siminovsky's client, Levi, would get the home ... gain its exclusive
But Garson had persuaded the state lower court and appellate panel
he couldn't be tried on the felonies because they, in part, cited a
violation of the rules of conduct for judges. Garson had argued that
violating a rule isn't a crime and the preamble to the ethical
judge states they aren't to be used as civil or criminal charges.
"This claim lacks merit," Ciparick stated.
"We must interpret a statute as to avoid an `unreasonable or absurd'
application of the law," Ciparkick wrote. He quoted a 1984 high court
ruling: "The law binds all men equally, the judges no less than the