- Rich Klein
McGuire Resigns From Bench But Quietly Begins Work As County Attorney
Michael McGuire has decided not to contest the State Commission on Judicial Conduct's recommendation made in March that he be removed from the bench and called it quits late last week.
"Please be advised, based upon medical issues within my family, as well as other personal and family considerations I am hereby withdrawing my request for review and will resign my current position as County Court Judge and Surrogate effective May 16, 2020," McGuire wrote in a May 14 letter (above) to Hon. Janet DeFiore, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.
McGuire was suspended from the bench on April 13 without pay. He was scheduled to begin work at County Attorney on May 4 but did not show. At that time, The SullivanTimes was told by the County that he was not starting work for the County "for personal reasons" and that there was no firm start date to begin his new position.
But as of May 19, he is listed as the County Attorney on the county's website. No announcement was ever made to the public that McGuire actually started work this week.
In late March, the State Commission on Judicial conduct issued a scathing report about McGuire's conduct on the bench that included abruptly holding people in contempt without warning and ordering them to be handcuffed , referring legal work to an attorney friend and working at times in the capacity as an attorney himself to handle personal matters.
The report also said that McGuire "presided over matters in both Family Court and Supreme Court in which his close friend appeared as counsel without disclosing his relationship or disqualifying himself from such matters."
McGuire took office in 2011 and his 10-year term was to expire in December. He quietly announced earlier this year that he was not running for re-election, paving the way for E. Danielle Jose-Decker - the current president of the Sullivan County Bar Association - to run for his position unopposed this November. It's widely believed that McGuire did not run for re-election largely because he had been under investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for at least two years.
McGuire served as an Assistant District Attorney in Sullivan County from 2002 until 2004 and was in private practice from 2004 through 2010 with an office in Ferndale, New York.
In early March, McGuire's wife, Corrine - a former Village of Liberty trustee -was hired by Sheriff Michael Schiff as an accounts payable coordinator at the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division. Her salary is $43,087. Schiff, who runs the County's Republican Party, subsequently defended the decision to hire her. It's widely believed that Schiff, who was largely responsible for helping all the new county legislators win their elections last November, also played a role behind the scenes to promote the idea of McGuire as a candidate to replace Cheryl McCausland.
Note: Please see The SullivanTimes editorial about these developments at www.facebook.com/sullivancatskillstimes