County Court Judge Rules that Prior Felony Conviction Disqualifies Appointed Spring Valley Judge from Taking Bench

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BY JOEL GROSSBARTH

1A County Court Judge has ruled that Jacques O. D’l. Michel cannot sit as a judge in Spring Valley based upon a prior felony conviction. In a case that was first reported by The Rockland County Times, Hon. Charles Apotheker has issued a letter to Michel that his felony conviction from 1978 makes him ineligible under New York Law to sit as a judge. According to Apotheker, “A person convicted of a felony is ineligible to hold the position of a Village Judge, per (New York State) Village Law Section 3-301(5). “

Apotheker has informed Michel that he will not be permitted to attend “taking the bench” classes, a prerequisite for non-attorneys to sit as a town or village judge. Michel also must submit to fingerprinting. Judge Apotheker told Michel that if he completed an Oath of Office Form, whereby he must swear or affirm under oath, that he has never been convicted of a felony, he may be permitted to sit. However, based upon documents supplied by Dennis Lynch, Esq., Special Counsel to the Village of Spring Valley, it is acknowledged the prior conviction to be a federal felony. If Michel signs the Oath of Office form supplied by Judge Apotheker, he may be committing perjury.

In a letter to Mayor Demeza Delhome, Lynch tries to argue that since New York does not have a similar or comparable law, the appointment may be valid. According to Lynch “…it is my opinion that under the specific facts of this case involving (Michel) that his plea nearly four decades ago concerning an immigration law felony conviction in Federal Court is not substantially similar or equivalent to any felony under applicable New York State Law at this time.”

However, it is not Mayor Delhome that Lynch needs to convince, it is Judge Apotheker. It would appear that short of another ruling by Judge Apotheker, Michel will not be sitting as a judge in the Village of Spring Valley.

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