Justice David A. Prince of the Pomfret Town Court and Fredonia Village Court in Chautauqua County was admonished Monday by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which issued its lowest possible punishment to the veteran jurist for his handling of an arraignment in a domestic violence case some months ago, Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said.
Prince, the commission determined, was disciplined for his reported failure during that court proceeding to advise the defendant of his right to assigned legal counsel.
The judge was also admonished for comments he made during that arraignment that appeared to prejudge the defendant’s guilt, as well as critical comments he made about the alleged victim of the incident, Tembeckjian said.
“It is fundamental to the role of a judge to be and appear impartial and to ensure that all parties to a proceeding are afforded their legal rights,” Tembeckjian said. “Judge Prince has acknowledged his failure to do so in this case and renewed his commitment to these basic judicial obligations, and had this been part of a pattern, the discipline might well have been harsher than an admonition.”
Prince, a Pomfret town judge since 1999 and a Fredonia village judge since 1978, could not be reached to comment.
In 2001, Prince, a Fredonia resident, was elected to his sixth four-year term on the Pomfret court, running with Democratic and Conservative Party backing.
His current Pomfret Court term expires Dec. 31, 2015. His current Fredonia Court term expires April 1, 2017.
Tembeckjian did not disclose the identities of the defendant and victim of the domestic violence case involved in the commission’s action.