Ithaca, N.Y. — City Judge Seth Peacock may have violated state rules that bar judges from political activity outside their own campaigns, but any disciplinary action is likely to come long after next week’s election.

Peacock is vying with Ithaca lawyer Rick Wallace Nov. 4 to earn election to the seat to which Peacock was appointed earlier this year by Mayor Svante Myrick.

As The Voice reported last week, Peacock appeared at a political rally in Ithaca Oct. 15 for Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor. He openly endorsed Hawkins in a brief speech captured on YouTube:

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Section 100.5 of the administrative rules of New York’s state court system clearly prohibits “publicly endorsing or publicly opposing (other than by running against) another candidate for public office” — or, for that matter, making political speeches or attending political rallies for a cause other than one’s own election.

Peacock declined to answer any questions about the endorsement or whether he knew it was against the rules when contacted last Friday. He asked The Voice to submit questions in an email, and the next day responded to them by saying: “I will not be commenting.”

If the Judge did indeed run afoul of state rules, the investigating body would be the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. It privileges careful deliberation over speed in resolving cases.

One of its officers acknowledged as much Monday.

“The length of time a complaint might be pending varies depending on the complexity of a case, the number of witnesses and/or incidents, etc.,” said Robert H. Tembeckjian, Administrator & Counsel for the Commission. “Plus, we are bound by due process obligations. So the range could be anywhere from a couple of months to a year.”

The rules prohibiting political activity outside their own races by judges and judicial candidates are intended to maintain the impartiality of the judicial system.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.