New York Superior Judge Fails to Comply with Vaccination Mandate | Health & Fitness

By MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York Supreme Court judge has been referred to a disciplinary committee and could be removed from office for failing to comply with a rule requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Judge Jenny Rivera, one of seven jurists on the state Court of Appeals, is barred from court facilities and has been working remotely since October, court officials said. She is one of four judges statewide who have been referred to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct for failing to comply with the mandate that applies to all court personnel.

The Court of Appeals is the New York equivalent of the United States Supreme Court.

“We had made it clear from the beginning that any judge who fails to comply will be subject to a referral to the Commission on Judicial Conduct for determination,” court spokesman Lucian Chalfen said.

When asked about Rivera’s status, Chalfen said, “She is not in compliance with the court’s vaccination policy.”

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In response to a message left on Rivera’s chambers, Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer said, “If true, any referral would be confidential under Judiciary Law.”

Rivera, who was appointed to the Court of Appeals by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013, has been participating in hearings by video, questioning attorneys through a large television monitor placed alongside her colleagues on the courtroom bench. of the Albany courthouse.

She was absent from Tuesday’s ceremony, attended by Gov. Kathy Hochul, celebrating the new appeals court judges.

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New York’s state court system requires all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy that was implemented last year. On March 21, the state court system notified 156 court employees that they did not meet the requirements for employment and that they would be terminated if they did not show proof of vaccination by April 4.

Chalfen said that of those employees, 103 have received termination letters, one has resigned, 11 have said they will retire, and 41 have chosen to serve the term and return to duty.

That term did not apply to judges, who can only be removed by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The commission has never sanctioned or removed an Appeals Court judge, according to a database of its decisions.

Rivera may continue to serve as a judge while the commission process unfolds. The timeline for that process has not been published.

On its website, the Commission on Judicial Conduct says that all complaints are kept confidential until it issues a public determination that a judge should be reprimanded, censured, removed or retired, or if the judge who is the subject of the complaint has resigned. confidentiality.

A commission spokeswoman, Marisa Harrison, declined to comment.

Since its creation in 1978, the commission has made decisions in 912 cases, about two-thirds of which involve judges from low-level town or city courts. The commission has removed 176 judges from their posts and publicly censured 342 judges. An additional 114 judges retired or resigned as a result of the commission’s proceedings.

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