The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that Linda S. Jamieson, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District, Westchester County, should be censured for intentionally omitting any information about a $50,000 cash loan on 13 years of financial disclosure statements.
In August 2005, Judge Jamieson lent $50,000 to Nicholas Natrella, a family friend, but did not report the loan as required until October 2019, after the Commission started its inquiry. (At that point, only about $11,000 in principal and interest had been repaid.)
In 2014, both directly and through intermediaries, Judge Jamieson attempted to get a confession of judgment from Mr. Natrella by calling him and his attorney, and when she learned Mr. Natrella was filing for bankruptcy, she used the prestige of her judicial office to try to get Mr. Natrella’s lawyer to omit the loan from the bankruptcy filing. The lawyer declined to do so despite feeling pressured by the judge, and thereafter she moved to disqualify Judge Jamieson from an unrelated case of hers over which the judge was presiding.
The Commission stated: “The public has an interest in the timely and accurate disclosure of a judge’s financial information on the annual financial disclosure form.” The Commission stated that “over the course of 13 years, [Judge Jamieson] repeatedly filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms in violation of her ethical obligations.” The Commission found it “troubling,” that the judge testified that she did not accurately complete her FDFs because she did not take them “that seriously.”
In censuring Judge Jamieson, the Commission noted that the judge had no prior disciplinary history as a judge or an attorney.
Judge Jamieson has been a Justice of the Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District, Westchester County, since 2003. Her current term expires on December 31, 2030. She previously served as a Judge of the Westchester County Family Court from 1998 to 2002.
Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian made the following statement.
“Accurate financial disclosure is essential to reassure litigants, their lawyers and the public that judges are presiding without conflicts of interest. Judge Jamieson’s intentional failure to report a $50,000 cash loan, for 13 years, was staggering, and her explanations were unsatisfactory. She seriously compounded her initial misconduct by trying to pressure the debtor’s attorney to omit the loan from his bankruptcy filing. That there were four votes to remove her from office underscores the gravity of her wrongdoing.”
Judge Jamieson was served with a Formal Written Complaint dated July 22, 2019, containing two charges, and filed an answer dated September 12, 2019.
The Commission designated Hugh H. Mo, Esq. as referee to hear and report proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. A hearing was held on January 20 and 21 and March 5, 2021 via videoconference. The referee filed a report dated September 16, 2021.
The Administrator recommended that the referee’s report be confirmed and that Judge Jamieson be removed from office. Judge Jamieson’s attorney recommended that the referee’s report be confirmed in part and disaffirmed in part and that, in any event, a sanction no greater than a private letter of caution be imposed. On December 9, 2021, the Commission heard oral argument.
The Commission filed a determination dated February 11, 2022, in which seven members concurred: Taa Grays, Esq. (the Vice Chair), Judge Fernando M. Camacho, Judge Angela M. Mazzarelli, Judge Robert J. Miller, Marvin Ray Raskin, Esq., Ronald J. Rosenberg, Esq., and Graham B. Seiter, Esq.
Four members, Joseph W. Belluck, Esq. (the Commission Chair), Jodie Corngold, Judge John A. Falk, and Akosua Garcia Yeboah dissented as to the sanction, voting that the judge should be removed from office.
The Commission transmitted its determination to the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, pursuant to Judiciary Law Section 44, subdivision 7. The Commission was notified on March 21, 2022, that Judge Jamieson had received the determination. Consequently, the matter is now public.
A judge may either accept the Commission’s determination or, within 30 days from receipt, make a written request to the Chief Judge for a review of the determination by the Court of Appeals.
Pursuant to Judiciary Law Section 44, subdivision 7, if Judge Jamieson does not request review by the Court of Appeals, the Commission will censure her in accordance with the determination.
If a Commission determination is reviewed by the Court of Appeals, the Court may accept the determined sanction, impose a different sanction including admonition, censure or removal, or impose no sanction.
Statistics Relating to Prior Determinations
Since 1978, the Commission has issued 341 determinations of censure against judges in New York State. The Commission has issued 176 determinations of removal and 280 determinations of admonition.
The Court of Appeals has reviewed 101 Commission determinations. The Court accepted the Commission’s sanctions in 85 cases (76 of which were removals, six were censures and three were admonitions). Of the remaining 16 cases, two sanctions were increased from censure to removal, and 13 were reduced: nine removal determinations were modified to censure, one removal was modified to admonition, two censures were modified to admonition, and one censure was rejected and the charges dismissed. The Court remitted one matter to the Commission for further proceedings.