Letter: State’s judicial branch needs cleaning up, too - The Buffalo News

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Letter: State’s judicial branch needs cleaning up, too

State’s judicial branch needs cleaning up, too

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been running political ads pledging to New Yorkers that he is going to clean up the legislative branch in Albany. I applaud him for this effort – if he means it. I would suggest further that he expand this effort to include the judicial branch.

On July 5, the Appellate Division Fourth Department handed down a decision in a “reverse discrimination” lawsuit involving 13 Buffalo firefighters who were denied promotions because of their race. The appellate panel handed the City of Buffalo and its attorneys, Hodgson Russ, an early Christmas present and gutted our damage awards. The decision reeked with contempt for the plaintiffs and insulted common sense, reducing our awards to the minimum.

The court went so far as to agree with Hodgson Russ’ disgraceful argument that three of the plaintiffs actually benefitted from being discriminated against! They argued that because these three firemen weren’t promoted, they ended up getting permanently disabled, and are now collecting partially tax-free pensions. The appellate panel perversely endorsed this argument and reduced these plaintiffs’ damages to $0. The appellate panel’s decision, if it stands, will effectively guarantee that the biggest beneficiary of this lawsuit is Hodgson Russ.

As nonsensical as it was at the time, it soon made perfect sense. Less than two months after handing down their decision, one of the appellate judges who decided our case, Judge Salvatore Martoche, announced that he was resigning from the bench and taking a position with Hodgson Russ. This is the same judge whose daughter, Amy Martoche, was appointed to the City Court bench in 2011 by Mayor Byron Brown.

If Cuomo is really intent on rooting out corruption in government, he needs to look at all the branches, including the judiciary.

Joseph P. Fahey


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