New York Post Gets to Question Judges, Politicos

Francois Rivera–a judge who sued the New York Post for libel after a story in the paper described his possible involvement in the scandal to sell judgeships in Brooklyn–has opened up a bigger can of worms for himself and colleagues.

Rivera and several others judges along with a number of political operatives, now have to comply with a deposition request from the New York Post, to describe in detail what they know about the scandal.

The ruling was first reported this morning in the New York Law Journal.

Here are some key lines from the April 12ruling:

“Rivera must now respond and reveal any information he may have shared with a Grand Jury irrespective of materiality to the issues at hand and any confidentiality under which he testified at the time is now obliterated.”

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“[T]he Subpoenas served upon Justice Schmidt, Justice Pesce, Justice Schack, Justice Lewis, Justice Ruchelsman, Major Bryan, Michelle Lemonds, Justice Pfau, Justice Belen, Justice Gerges, Justice Margarita Lopes-Torres, Richard LaFontaine, Steven Cohn, Jerry Schmetter, Hon. Vito Lopes, Martin Malave, Gilberto Gonzalez, Jeffrey Feldman, Howard Ruditsky, Carl Andrews, Paul Siminovsky, Junior’s Restaurant, Hon. Darryl Towns, Decosta Headley, Ernest lendler, Branford Communications, Jack Elefant, Ralph Bombardiere, Alan Fleishman, Scott Levenson and Victor Barron are to be complied with forthwith. Based upon the Appellate Division order of June 9, 2009, all of the motions to quash the aforementioned subpoenas duces tecum and ad testificandum on the respective are denied. The subpoenas on the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is quashed and the subpoena on the CJC has been withdrawn. Furthermore, all Judicial personnel is to be appointed counsel by the Attorney General’s Office to assist them at the depositions based upon the broad scope of the subpoenas duces tecum and ad testificandum. Based upon all the prior litigation in this case, this court can not see the total exclusion of questions into matters of judicial function. Therefore, judicial personnel are entitled to representation by the State.”

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Over the objections of the state court system, eight judges, including Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau, have been ordered to answer questions under oath regarding the truth of articles in the Post, which reported in October 2005 that Brooklyn Justice Francois A. Rivera was under investigation for allegedly paying $50,000 to buy a Democratic nomination to the Supreme Court, and the extent of injury the articles caused to Justice Rivera’s reputation.

And for more reading, here’s the original ruling on the case.