New York

Commission Rules NY Judge Should Be Censured for Derogatory Remark

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What to Know

  • A state commission said that a New York judge should be censured for inappropriate behavior, including a derogatory remark made in court
  • “For all we know, he could be frying up some platanos in the front seat,” Michael Tawil said during a 2017 case involving a Hispanic man driving
  • Tawil responded that he was a part-time judge and would never “intentionally make a racist comment”

A state commission said Monday that a New York judge should be censured for inappropriate behavior, including a derogatory remark made in court while he was acting as a defense attorney.

The remark, which another judge said was racist, came in 2017 while Michael Tawil was giving a summation in a case about a car accident. Tawil, a part-time justice for the Ossining Town Court, was arguing that a man of Hispanic descent was not paying attention to the road, according to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

“For all we know, he could be frying up some platanos in the front seat,” Tawil said, according to the commission.

The next day, the judge overseeing the case told Tawil the remark was racist, according to the commission. Tawil responded that he was a part-time judge and would never “intentionally make a racist comment.”

Another time, Tawil cursed at a store employee during a confrontation about a window display of tobacco products, the commission found. The products included hookahs and glass pipes. Tawil demanded the products be taken down and said stores should not sell items used for illegal drugs. A store employee told him the products were legal.

Tawil also referred to his judicial role during the incident.

Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian issued a statement saying a judge’s conduct on and off the bench must embody the dignity of the judiciary.

“A profane rant, a demeaning ethnic remark and gratuitous reminders to people that you are a judge, undermine respect for the bench,” he said in a statement.

A phone message seeking comment was left with Tawil. Tawil has been a part-time judge for the town court since 2012.

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