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Cayuga judge censured

By: Daily Record Staff//October 28, 2010

Cayuga judge censured

By: Daily Record Staff//October 28, 2010//

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The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday determined that Brian M. Dugan, a justice of the Scipio Town Court in Cayuga County, should be censured.

The commission found that Judge Dugan failed to disqualify himself in a criminal matter involving his business tenant and a long-time acquaintance, and encouraged and helped to negotiate a financial settlement between the parties.

The commission’s report states that Judge Dugan’s actions compromised his impartiality and he overstepped the boundaries of his judicial authority. Judge Dugan, who is not an attorney, owned and rented out property in Scipio Center, where his tenant operated a restaurant.

In December 2008, Judge Dugan received a request for an arrest warrant for an employee accused of stealing from the restaurant. The employee and the judge were acquainted socially, according to the commission’s findings. After meeting with an Onondaga County sheriff’s deputy and the tenant and viewing a surveillance video, the judge said he did not think there was sufficient evidence showing a crime had occurred, and suggested the financial settlement, the commission reported.

The judge was involved in negotiating a stipulation, which he signed as a witness. As part of the settlement, the employee paid $300 to the judge’s tenant, whose rent was in arrears.

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