Herkimer Judge Censured by State Commission for Driving Drunk into Building in 2018
A Herkimer judge has been censured by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct for a 2018 DWI crash.
Herkimer Town Court Justice Michael Petucci - just re-elected to a new four-year term this past November - was intoxicated when he lost control of his vehicle, crashing into the former Kmart on South Washington Street in Herkimer on December 13, 2018, according to court documents.
Those documents show that Petucci, who also spent six years as a Herkimer Village Justice from 2010-2015, yelled obsenities and was otherwise belligerent to a paramedic who arrived on scene. He also responded, ''No, f#@k you,'' when a Herkimer Police Sgt. responding to the accident asked him to submit to a roadside breath test. Additionally, he was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun, and more ammunition in his pocket, court documents say, noting that he was registered and licensed to carry.
The incident occurred less than three months after Petucci had been sworn in as President of the New York State Magistrate Association, which ''offers education and training programs to town and village court justices on adherence to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and judicial ethics'', according to court papers.
In January 2019, Petucci would plead guilty to the DWI charge and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, $255 surcharge, attend a victim impact panel and had his license suspended for 90 days, court records show.
In making its determination to censure Petucci, dated January 30, 2020, the State Commission noted:
Further aggravating respondent's misconduct, he carried a loaded handgun and another full magazine of ammunition while impaired by alcohol. Although respondent was licensed to carry a firearm, he exercised extremely poor judgment in carrying a loaded firearm in these circumstances. In mitigation, shortly after the accident, respondent was evaluated by a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor and a multidisciplinary team. They determined that no treatment was recommended for respondent. Nevertheless, respondent has voluntarily participated in counseling with a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor...
...In accepting the jointly recommended sanction of censure,we have taken into consideration that respondent's misconduct involved one incident and that he recognizes a severe sanction is appropriate. We also note that respondent was suspended from performing his judicial duties shortly after the incident. We trust that respondent has learned from this experience and in the future will act in strict accordance with his obligation to abide by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.
In Novermber 2019, Petucci was re-elected as Herkimer Town Justice, a term that ends December 31, 2023.