SOBRIETY CHECK SNAGS JUDGE DESPITE ALERT

Albany jurist accused of DWAI count; cops say he tried to flee

ROBERT GAVIN STAFF WRITER
Section: Main,  Page: A1

Date: Saturday, June 20, 2009

GREEN ISLAND ---- By the time Albany County Family Court Judge Gerard Maney allegedly tried to avoid a road sobriety checkpoint on the Green Island Bridge Thursday night, it was no secret police were out looking for drunk drivers.


More than 24 hours earlier, District Attorney David Soares issued a news release to announce that 16 law enforcement agencies would be at DWI checkpoints around Albany County, much they did twice last summer on Thursday nights.


Despite the advance warning, 24 motorists were arrested within a five-hour span - including Maney, a family court judge in Albany since June 1991.


Maney, 59, of Albany, allegedly spotted the checkpoint on the bridge just after 8:30 p.m.


Police in Green Island say he made a U-turn, failed to comply with a traffic stop and led police for a 1- 1/2 mile chase before he "finally came to a stop" outside the Purple Pub restaurant in Watervliet.


An officer detected a "strong odor of alcoholic beverage" coming from the judge. He failed a field sobriety test, a police report said.


He was taken back to the Green Island police station, where he registered 0.07 percent on an alcohol test, just below the 0.08 percent legal limit for DWI, sources said.


Maney was charged with a driving while ability impaired by alcohol, a violation akin to a traffic ticket, and issued tickets. He was released but given a ticket to appear in Green Island Town Court at 6:30 p.m. on July 7.


His immediate status on the bench had not changed by late Friday afternoon, said Kari Holloway, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Court Administration. She said the office were aware of the arrest and looking into the details. The case was pending, she said.


But the arrest could have wider implications for Maney's future.


Maney, the supervising judge for the Third Judicial District, earlier this week announced his candidacy to be a state Supreme Court justice. The district comprises Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Ulster and Schoharie counties, along with Sullivan and Albany.


Maney, a former assistant corporation counsel for the city of Albany, was appointed to Family Court by former Gov. Mario Cuomo. The state Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination. He began what he described as a "lifelong ambition" on June 11, 1991.


Maney did not return a call to his home late Friday afternoon.


A person familiar with the judicial system's disciplinary procedures against judges told the Times Union that judges arrested on alcohol-related driving allegations, in New York and other states, are generally not kicked off the bench - depending on the details of the case.


They usually receive a public admonishment, the least severe of the three levels of punishment possible from the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, the source said. The next most serious reprimand for a judge would a censure, followed by outright removal from the bench.


The source said reprimands can be more severe than an admonishment in the event of "aggravating circumstances," such as a judge throwing their name and status around during an arrest. While unfamiliar with the details of Maney's arrest, the person said leading police on a pursuit might be considered an aggravated circumstance.


The judge's brother, John Maney, was arrested on DWI and felony reckless endangerment charges in 1991. At the time, police alleged that when he was pulled over on Route 9 in Loudonville, he drove off and almost hit a police officer before being arrested near Colonie Town Hall. The case prompted complaints that he received special treatment from Colonie police.


That September, he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired and misdemeanor reckless endangerment and fined $325. The case was adjourned for six months in contemplation it would be dismissed.


Bob Gardinier contributed to this report. Robert Gavin can be reached at 434-2403 or rgavin@timesunion.com


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