Brooklyn judge who grabbed a Legal Aid lawyer in his courtroom while yelling at him about his handling of a traffic case has been publicly censured by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which rejected a recommendation to remove him from the bench.
The judge, Richard N. Allman, who has served in Brooklyn Criminal Court since 1999 and primarily decided domestic violence cases before the courtroom confrontation last June 8, accepts the commission’s rebuke and will not appeal it, said his lawyer, Andrea G. Hirsch.
She quoted the judge as saying that he was “looking forward to continuing his judicial career,” and had “learned from this experience.” He currently handling arraignments at the Criminal Court.
The commission’s decision, released yesterday, provided this account of the confrontation: Stephen B. Terry, a Legal Aid lawyer, appeared before Judge Allman representing a man named Winston Roach, who court papers say had not paid all of an 18-month-old, $230 traffic fine and had failed to show up for four earlier court appearances.
In a breach of usual procedure, the judge spoke directly to Mr. Roach, rather than to his lawyer, repeatedly demanding “whether he could think of a way to ensure his future appearances in court.” After Mr. Terry objected several times, the judge “stood up angrily, leaned over the bench and said to Mr. Terry in a loud voice: ‘Did you go to law school, Mr. Terry? Did you go to law school, yes or no?’ ”
At that point, Judge Allman left the bench, approached Mr. Terry and grabbed his arms while saying loudly, “All I want you to do is listen to me.” When Mr. Terry protested, the judge released him, but kept yelling at him, and then told him to leave the courtroom.
Judge Allman called Mr. Terry, as well as his boss at Legal Aid, to apologize. He also apologized to everyone who had witnessed the scene, according to the commission. These apologies, as well as the judge’s previously unblemished record, were cited as mitigating factors by the commission in its decision to censure him.