Ex-Manorhaven justice barred from bench for life

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A former Manorhaven village justice has been barred from the bench for life following allegations of sexism and favoritism. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

A former Manorhaven village justice has been barred from the bench for life following an investigation alleging that he made sexist remarks, practiced favoritism and improperly recorded court cases.

Peter Gallanter, who served as the village’s justice since 2008, resigned on April 1 in light of an investigation by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct “for various improper conduct in the discharge of my duties,” according to his emailed resignation.

The commission said in a statement released Monday that in March, an investigation began into complaints that Gallanter had “dismissed or reduced tickets in multiple cases for defendants with whom he had personal relationships, repeatedly described female litigants and lawyers in demeaning and sexist terms and improperly used a security camera to record proceedings in his courtroom.”

As part of a “stipulation,” or agreement, with the commission, Gallanter agreed never to seek or accept judicial office at any time in the future, and the investigation was closed April 22. Specific complaints were not named by the commission, and as part of the stipulation will remain confidential.

“It is intolerable for a judge to demean women with sexist language, or to bestow favors from the bench to friends,” commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in a statement. “The complaints against Judge Gallanter were serious, and his permanent departure from the bench is appropriate.”

Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena said in a statement: “We support the Commission on Judicial Review’s independent inquiry.  I want to reiterate that the Village Justice position is a separate body that works independently from the Village government and the former judge was appointed by a previous administration.”

Avena previously said in an April 8 statement that the investigation into the judge did not affect “any other part of our village government or any other village official.”

“Unfortunately, based on his own words, the former judge has chosen to politicize his alleged ethical lapses and questionable conduct,” Avena said. “The truth of the matter is that he – and he alone – is responsible for whatever issues the state is investigating. Any attempt to shift responsibility for this or blame his predicament on others is completely without merit.”

Avena said that the village had appointed attorney and village resident Jim Roman, a member of the village’s Planning Board and Ethics and Finance committees, as village justice. Roman will serve the rest of Gallanter’s term, scheduled to end in July.

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