Who You Callin' a Slug?

Judge in hot water for dissing Shel

Talk about bad judgment. An upstate judge is under investigation for calling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver "a slug" in a local newspaper.

Cattaraugus County Judge Larry Himelein admits he used the term to describe Shel, but denies he did so in an April 2008 interview with The New York Post. The 60-year-old benchwarmer, annoyed over the delay in judges' pay raises, contends he called the Lower East Side Democrat a slug in an e-mail to colleagues that got leaked to the paper.

Himelein was dragged before an arbitrator last week by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to the Post. The charges weren't disclosed.

The commission is also investigating whether Himelein said, "I think the speaker is a slug," reports the Post. Under subpoena, the reporter who interviewed him back in April of last year maintained his account was accurate – that Himelein did, in fact, call the speaker a slug on the phone. The judge says all he did was confirm he denied hearings to cases involving Silver's employers, Weitz and Luxenberg.

It's likely Himelein would just get a private warning if convicted of detracting "from the dignity of judicial office," a lawyer not associated with the case told the Post. But if he's found to have deceived the panel, he faces harsher punishments and could even get ousted from the bench, the source told the paper.

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