I had an experience recently in Walton Village Court with Judge Yvonne Pagillo that I thought I need to share with the public, as it is a matter of public concern.
Judge Yvonne Pagillo received from prosecution an email containing a full thread of previous e-mails negotiating a plea in a certain case.
That same thread was not sent to me as a defense attorney - by mistake (as the prosecution) claims or otherwise.
The thread contained certain information that the prosecution could not introduce at trial for reason of its inadmissibility.
The judge read that information.
Judge Pagillo is not an attorney, and her level of education is unknown.
I do know though that Judge Pagillo's son is a police officer in Norwich, and that my other clients reported to me that he was spreading rumors a couple of years ago, allegedly coming from Yvonne Pagillo, that I was disbarred. Nothing like appearing before such an "unbiased" judge - to begin with.
I would never have known about the ex parte exchange between (the thread) between the prosecution and the judge had the judge not triggered my inquiry into her misconduct, because the judge actually CALLED me, in an ex parte manner, and left a message on my voice-mail. I have it on file and am turning it into the Commission for Judicial Conduct.
In her statement on the voice-mail Judge Pagillo state the following:
- that I was dragging on with the case - which was a lie;
- that my client was a no-show in court - which was a lie;
- and that, based on reading of the thread, Judge Pagillo will not allow me to drag on with the case any more and will require a personal appearance of me and my client - in a traffic case
the adjournments in the case occurred as followed:
1/ because there was no judge in Walton Village court, review of the case was delayed by several months - not my fault;
2/ an adjournment was granted by Judge Pagillo because of ongoing plea negotiations, on consent with prosecution - cannot be attributed to me as dragging the case;
3/ the prosecution failed to conduct review of the case (which was the basis for the request to adjourn) within a week, as it promised, and conducted such a review only within days of the next appearance, making it impossible for me to make a motion and making it necessary to ask for another adjournment. Judge Pagillo apparently attributed to myself and my client prosecution's delay in reviewing the case with the police officer and turning down the prosecution's plea offer.
The case involves constitutional issues - but, not having legal education and listening to everything that the prosecution puts into her ears, apparently, Judge Pagillo equates "constitutional argument" with "frivolous argument".
The interesting point is that, while both the Judge and the Delaware County District Attorney's office both recused from the case, the DA's office denies any wrongdoing and tried to ardently argue with me against turning the judge into the Commission for Judicial Conduct.
When the DA's office is an advocate for such a judge - it appears to me that such a conduct is ongoing and a pattern, and investigation of a judge may open up a can of worms regarding interaction of the DA's office with non-attorney judges and giving them legal advice - as I observed happening on other occasions with other judges, too.
I feel other defense attorneys and the public must know about what is going on behind closed doors and must seek in discovery, through subpoenas duces tecum, access to court computers to verify that no improper exchanges were happening between the prosecution and the court.
And, by the way, I only learnt about improper disclosure of inadmissible plea negotiation information to the factfinding judge by the DA's office because of (1) Judge Pagillo's misconduct, her ex parte phone call to my voice mail; (2) admission by the prosecutor as to sending the e-mail thread to the judge (at least, the prosecutor had the integrity to admit that).
But, my question is - in how many cases such issues remain unknown for the defense and parties?
I believe, Judge Pagillo should be disciplined for her misconduct and that the State of New York (and the Village of Walton) must make sure that the judge presiding over proceedings is properly trained to understand his or her duties.
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