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North Elba town justice resigns after state inquiry

Mar. 19—LAKE PLACID — North Elba Town Justice Alec H. Friedmann has resigned and agreed not to seek judicial office again after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct brought misconduct charges against him.

Friedmann's resignation was effective Dec. 31, 2023 and affirmed by the commission on March 14, when it was made public.

The North Elba Town Council can appoint a replacement for Friedmann who would serve until Dec. 31, 2024, with the post on the November general election ballot.

North Elba has two town justice positions, and Dean Dietrich is the other judge. Dietrich is hearing all cases until a new justice is named.

2023 WRITTEN COMPLAINT

Friedmann was served with a written complaint on Nov. 27, 2023, which alleged that he "failed to disqualify himself and presided over a criminal case despite being biased against the defense attorney, engaged in unauthorized ex parte (benefit of one party only) communications, and dismissed the charges without notice to or consent of the prosecution as required by law, despite having been previously cautioned by the Commission for similar conduct; and (B) demonstrated bias and a hostile demeanor toward a defense attorney in retaliation for a complaint the attorney had filed with the Commission in 2019."

In a written statement, Friedmann said he regretted having to resign.

"I have had the privilege and honor to serve the Town of North Elba for five years as a Town Justice," he wrote. "Unfortunately, my current personal situation precludes my ability to continue to do so."

'FAIR AND COURTEOUS TOWARD ALL'

He took office Jan. 1, 2018 and his current term would have expired Dec. 31, 2026.

Friedmann is not an attorney, but he represented himself during Commission on Judicial Conduct proceedings. He did not file a response to the commission's charges and agreed to resign to settle the case.

Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said judges must be free of bias.

"Apart from a judge's obligation to be fair and courteous toward all who have business before the court, judicial retaliation against those who file complaints with the commission is unacceptable and taken very seriously," he said in a statement.

The commission was represented by Deputy Administrator Cathleen S. Cenci, Senior Attorney Kathleen E. Klein and Senior Investigator Ryan Fitzpatrick in the proceeding against Friedmann.