A judge in Northern Westchester has been disciplined for attempting to use his status to influence the approval of a pistol license for his neighbors.
In May 2020, John M. Aronian, a Justice of the North Salem Town Court since January 2016, submitted character reference letters on behalf of his neighbors, Susan and Daniel Koch, to help their pistol permit applications get approved, according to the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct.
After Susan Koch's permit was denied on Sept. 2, 2020, Aronian then wrote another letter dated Oct. 2, 2020, that argued in favor of her permit application being reconsidered and cited her employment as a clerk with the North Salem Town Court, according to the commission's determination.
Upon receiving the letter, the judge who denied Koch's permit, County Court Judge Susan Cacace, referred Aronian's conduct to the commission, according to the determination.
According to the commission's determination, Aronian "acted in a manner that was inconsistent with his obligations to maintain high standards of conduct and to 'act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.'"
"Respondent violated his ethical obligations when he completed the two Character Reference Letter forms, in which he identified himself as a judge. He again violated the Rules when, using his judicial stationery, he wrote a letter to the County Court judge arguing for reconsideration of the denial of Susan Koch’s pistol license application," the determination continues.
Ultimately, the commission decided to issue an admonition, as Aronian acknowledged that his actions were unethical, according to the determination.
"We trust that respondent has learned from this experience and in the future will act in strict accordance with his obligation to abide by all the rules governing judicial conduct," the determination reads.
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