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Old 11-08-2019, 09:38 AM
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Default Judge sanctioned for pressuring lawyer to settle case over ‘racist’ remark


Judge sanctioned for pressuring lawyer to settle case over ‘racist’ remark
By Andrew Denney
November 7, 2019 | 8:18pm | Updated

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Genine Edwards (center) pictured after a separate 2018 case. Gabriella Bass

A Brooklyn judge has been hit with a sanction for threatening to file a complaint against an attorney for making what she called a “racist” comment in her court — unless his client immediately agreed to settle a case.

The state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday announced it had reprimanded Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Genine Edwards for her conduct in a 2017 trial in a Brooklyn car accident case.

During his closing arguments, defense attorney Michael Tawil said that a Hispanic cab driver could have been “frying up plantanos in the front seat” at the moment that he was involved in an auto accident , according to the panel’s determination.

Afterwards, Edwards met with Tawil in her chambers and told him his comment was “racist” and that she and her staff were offended, the determination reads.

She then told Tawil: “What’s going to happen now is your client is going to pay $25,000 to settle this case right now or I am going to report you to the Appellate Division Second Department. That’s your license counselor,” the report says.

Genine Edwards
Brooklyn Eagle photo by Mario Belluomo

Tawil’s client didn’t take the settlement, but the judge didn’t end up reporting the attorney.

In a news release, Commission Administration Robert Tembeckjian said Edwards expressed remorse for the threat, and noted that while she has discretion to try and settle cases she still needs to play by the rules.

“Threatening to file a professional grievance against an attorney, as a means to effect a settlement, is coercive and improper,” he said.
see also
Judge suing charity over $800 summer camp deposit

The commission does have the ability to recommend a judge be removed from office, but only opted for the slap-on-the-wrist public shaming in this case.

Edwards is a former Civil Court judge who was elected to the Supreme Court bench in 2016.

In 2014, Edwards sued a summer camp called World of Money where her kids were enrolled, alleging that she and her husband were getting fleeced over the $800 enrollment fee.

Tawil did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Edwards couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
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