Judge censured for intervening in son’s kitten torture arrest
A New York judge tried to sway police after his 19-year-old son was caught with a kitten that had its legs tied together with tape, a judicial commission finds.
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct ruled on 14 July that Whitestown Town Justice Daniel Sullivan had abused his position by seeking leniency from police in two separate conversations.
“Such behaviour is highly improper,” the judges said.
For a judge to seek personal favours from police who regularly appear before him in court “is especially troubling and corrupts the appearance of impartiality”, the commission concluded.
The judge’s son was discovered by a police officer in a girls’ toilet on 19 July 2013 with two kittens in his possession.
One kitten was restricted from moving as it had tape wrapped around its legs, while the other kitten was in a crate. There was also a lighter nearby.
The teenager’s father, Judge Sullivan, called Police Chief Donald Wolanin’s mobile the day after the incident.
He told the chief that he hoped police would not “go piling on” charges or “overcharge” his son.
The next day Judge Sullivan spoke to a police officer, who told him his son would be charged with animal cruelty.
The judge replied: “Do you really have to arrest him?” He explained that his son’s career could be damaged as a result.
He also said the family had lost their life savings paying for his son’s drug rehabilitation, arguing that the kittens were not injured so animal cruelty charges did not apply.
His son ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to one year conditional discharge, with 50 hours of community service and a fine.
The judicial commission acknowledged that the judge now regrets failing to abide by codes of conduct.