By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y., Dec 14 (Reuters) - An upstate town justice
accused of presiding over cases while under the influence of
alcohol and attempting to use her position to avoid a
hit-and-run ticket has resigned from the bench, the state
Commission on Judicial Conduct said.
Heather Knott, the former justice in Hague, Warren County,
stepped down on Nov. 1, the commission said on Friday. Knott,
who is an attorney, also allegedly appeared in Family Court
under the influence numerous times while representing a
Knott's attorney, John Turi, did not return requests for
The commission on Friday also announced the resignation of
Gary Anderson, the former justice in Bainbridge, Chenango
County. Anderson, who is not an attorney, was accused of a range
of misconduct, including failing to advise a defendant of his
right to counsel, inappropriately questioning defendants at
arraignment and enraging in ex parte communications in three
cases. He stepped down on Nov. 30, the commission said.
Anderson did not return a call seeking comment.
Knott and Anderson have agreed not to seek judicial office
in the future, according to the commission.
Both "failed to act in a manner that promotes public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,"
the panel said in separate September complaints against each
Robert Tembeckjian, the conduct commission's chief
administrator and counsel, said on Friday that the two judges
had not denied or admitted to the charges.
Hague is a town of less than 900 near the northwestern tip
of Lake George. Bainbridge is a rural town of 3,300 about 80
miles southeast of Syracuse.
According to the commission, Knott was censured in 1999 for
allegedly presiding over cases after drinking. At the time, she
told the panel that she had stopped drinking after being
diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis. In the report released
Friday, the commission said Knott continued to appear in court
-- both as a judge and a lawyer -- while under the influence.
The commission also said that in 2008, Knott hit a parked
car and fled the scene. When police confronted her about the
incident, she "said that she was a lawyer and a judge, invoked
the concept of 'clemency' ... and said she would speak to the
district attorney." She ultimately pleaded guilty to failing to
report an accident and paid a fine, the commission said.
Knott had been a town justice in Hague since 1994, and
Anderson had been on the bench in Bainbridge since 2008.
In separate October resignation letters provided by the
commission, Knott and Anderson did not explain their reasons for
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