On Tuesday, New York’s top judge suddenly announced her resignation while the state’s judicial commission was considering a complaint that she improperly attempted to influence a disciplinary hearing
According to The Wall Street Journal:
The state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct had been investigating Judge DiFiore for several months in connection with a complaint filed last year by Dennis Quirk, head of the court officers union, according to the knowledgeable people. The commission voted in June to serve Judge DiFiore with a formal written complaint alleging that she improperly used her official position to influence a disciplinary hearing involving Mr. Quirk, those people said.
The formal complaint could have led to a hearing before the commission, which has the power to privately caution judges, issue public admonitions or censures and even remove judges from office in extreme circumstances.
Mr. Quirk had been subject to a disciplinary hearing after court officials accused him of threatening to retaliate against Judge DiFiore in 2020. Mr. Quirk emailed the judge threatening to share information about her private life after a news report said she ordered an investigation into the union leader’s alleged racism, according to a copy of the email filed in a related court case.
In letter dated Aug. 24 of last year, Judge DiFiore wrote to Phyllis Flug, who was presiding over the hearing, that Mr. Quirk had a “childish temper tantrum” and that “absent significant sanction, he will be emboldened to engage in similar misconduct in the future,” according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“I implore you to use your authority wisely to uphold the values of our entire court system,” Judge DiFiore also wrote in the message, which was printed on official letterhead.
New York’s rules of judicial conduct state that judges may not lend the prestige of their office to advance private interests and may not voluntarily testify as a character witness.
Judge DiFore’s resignation effectively ends the investigation.