Southampton Judge Censured for "Acts of Misconduct"

A New York State commission on Wednesday, May 28 censored Justice Edward D. Burke Sr. a Southampton Town judge who committed "acts of misconduct,"  but did not order that he be removed from office.

According to The Sag Harbor Express Robert H. Tembeckjian, the state commission’s administrator, had argued for Burke’s removal from office. “I recommended removal, but the commission voted to censure the judge,” Tembeckjian wrote in a statement issued on Wednesday morning.

A censure is an official reprimand of a public official for inappropriate conduct.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct, in a 9-0 decision, said Burke should be sanctioned for four misconduct charges:

For using his position to promote his law firm; imposing speeding ticket fines of $200 which is in excess of the $150 maximum authorized by law; for making political contributions of approximately $7,500 during the years 2004-2010, and for riding in a police car with a DWI client after having arraigned him in court and subsequently suggesting that the defendant hire his business partner—which the defendant did—in a case that was tried before Justice Burke.

Newsday reports that Burke, 72, is a Sag Harbor resident and has presently been a Southampton Town judge since 2008. He had previously served in that post from 1994 to 2000, according to the commission.

From 2000 to 2007, Burke was a judge of the Court of Claims and an acting Supreme Court justice and is currently a partner at the law firm of Burke and Sullivan in Southampton.

Although censure is a public reprimand it can be appealed, but Justice Burke’s attorney, Paul Shechtman of Zuckerman Spaeder said in a statement to the Riverhead News-Review that his client would not appeal the decision, as he is no longer subject to removal from the bench.

S Kaufman May 30, 2014 at 03:40 PM
I have had 2 experiences with Judge Ed Burke which always troubled me: Some backround: In the late 70's, I fought against the Republican town board proposal to overcome the protective aquifer protection zoning so a developer who had bought the 516 pristine acres for a song could change the zoning to build the pesticide-laden Golf at the Bridge course on top of the deepest recharge area of our sole source of our precious drinking water. I became very politically active with the Democratic Party as a result. A few years later, fearful that I would expose the disarray within the town's Democratic Party during a heated election season, then-Democratic Vice Chair Marion Boden, who knew me for years, brought false criminal charges against me claiming I had "threatened" her over the phone. !!?&@$! I was arrested. Ed Burke, whose petition I had carried on behalf of the Democratic and who had known me over the years as a local community activist, was my trial judge. I represented myself. There was a hung jury. They went back to try again. But late Friday afternoon, the jury did not want to return to that stuffy windowless basement courtroom on Monday, so although as one juror later told me "you probably did not threaten her", I was convicted. Ed Burke was to sentence me a few weeks later. Two weeks or so before my sentencing date, I was going to Emporium Hardware; in my peripheral vision, I was aware of someone approaching from the other direction. We reached the door at the same time and he put his arm over my shoulder. Startled, I looked up to see Judge Burke, who had grown a beard so I hadn't immediately recognized him. "How you doing?", he asked. "Well, to be honest, a little nervous about my upcoming sentencing", I replied. "Oh, don't worry" he said with the hint of a smile, "you know what to do". Huh? I know what to do? Oh!! Of course!! I should make a Clayton motion - to dismiss in the interests of justice. What else could he possibly mean? I wrote a very good motion. But to my shock, he dismissed it! On appeal, the case was reversed - and dismissed because of judicial mistakes made - this cost me $10,000.00. Then years later, after he was elevated to the Supreme Court, Ed Burke attempted to take public land at Long Beach and claim it as his. I wrote a strong letter to the Express opposing this public official's attempt to take public property. Early Sunday morning of the week the paper was published, family members staying at my house were surprised when a strange man appeared at my back door looking for me. I was out of town. He said he was Judge Ed Burke and left this number 516-885-7420 for me to call. How did he know where I lived??? You can imagine how incredibly intimidated I felt having a powerful Supreme Court judge find out where I lived and come to "speak with me" early one weekend morning after I publicly spoke out against his public land grab plan. It is incredibly rare for the judicial conduct commission's administrator to recommend removal. Incredibly strong evidence must have been presented!
S Kaufman May 30, 2014 at 04:55 PM
PS. Just want to clarify that the complaining witness at my criminal trial, Marion Boden, was the Vice President of the political party upon whose line Ed Burke, the judge at my criminal trial, had just run for re-election. Marion Boden also headed other organizations, like Hampton Bays Civil association, always writing letters and being incredibly active, a real-life energizer bunny. At trial, I learned why all this work she did did not interfere with a real job - because she didn't have one. She had convinced the government she was unable to engage in "gainful" employment and therefore received full disability benefits - courtesy of my working and MY paying taxes!!
S Kaufman May 31, 2014 at 04:15 PM
I mistakenly said this happened in the late 70's. it was the late 90's. Sorry for any confusion.


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