New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct
In the Matter of the Proceeding Pursuant to Section 44, in Relation to Douglas C. Mills, Judge
DISSENTING OPINION BY MR. FELDER
Tyrants come in more varieties than Baskin-Robbins has flavors. The ultimate protection a free society has against a tyrant is a judicial system that acts as the last barrier to a tyrant's will. Therefore, it is immeasurably worse when the tyrant is the judge himself. Our sensibilities are even more offended at a time when our treasure and youth have been spent to remove a far-away tyrant on the simple premise that in the modern world, the velocity of events is such that evil in one place eventually becomes evil touching everyplace. Just as there is no small death, there is no small tyranny.
Respondent acted in tyrannical fashion. His will was the law, and to the degree that his law conflicted with the actual one, he was above the law.
A college student, Jason Kalenkowitz, attempting to represent himself on a minor charge, did little more than offend the judge and, for doing that, ended up in jail in solitary confinement for four days without counsel or any way of representing himself. When respondent realized that he had jailed the student on the wrong statute, he simply changed the charge but nevertheless forced the defendant to serve out the remainder of the previously ordered sentence. Along the way, at each opportunity, the defendant was denied his constitutional and statutory rights, further confirming respondent's bad faith, he refused to reconsider his harsh and illegal "sentence" even after Mr. Kalenkowitz apologized to him not once but twice. Respondent's utter failure to recognize wrongdoing in his handling of the case "strongly suggests that, if he is allowed to continue on the bench, we may expect more of the same." Matter of Bauer,__NY2d__. No. 125, Slip up. at 14 (Oct. 14, 2004).
In the matter of Terry Caton, respondent, some 50 feet away from Mr. Caton in a parking lot, overheard a verbal disagreement betwen Mr. Caton and his wife, who were on the way to respondent's courtroom in connection with traffic tickets their son had received. Respondent did not interfere in the Catons' argument but rather continued to walk to a coffee shop. Indeed, respondent essentially lied by stating in an information that he had been "alarmed" by Mr. Caton's conduct, when the record is clear that respondent was, at most, personally offended by Mr. Caton's conduct. Later, when respondent saw the Catons sitting in his courtroom, he had Mr. Caton arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct, although Mrs. Caton had made no complaint about her husband's conduct. Mr. Caton spent several hours in jail (without his necessary medication) until released by another judge.
I strongly believe that respondent is not fit to remain a judge. Arrogance and narcissism are not uncommon human qualities, but this judge's sense of self is so inflated that he chose to fuel his ego by burning the fundamental rights of citizens in his courtroom. I can think of no greater transgression by a jurist entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that justice is dispensed with basic fairness. Respondent is not just an embarrassment to his fellow jurists. He is dangerous, and he should be removed.