Judge Agrees to Retire After Alzheimer’s Diagnosis - The New York Times

Published by NYTIMES.COM

Summary generated on August 11, 2020

    The commission did not say when Judge Simpson, 54, first began to have symptoms of the degenerative brain disease or whether it had affected any of her rulings.

    The commission's inquiry, which began in mid-2019, focused not on Judge Simpson's decisions but on what investigators described as her unpredictable behavior and claims that she was "Frequently absent from court."

    The state commission discovered during the course of the investigation that Judge Simpson had taken a medical leave of absence for "An undisclosed condition" in August 2019, court papers said.

    Four months later, the commission informed Judge Simpson that it was also investigating a complaint that she was "Suffering from a physical or mental disability that prevented her from properly performing her judicial duties." Then in March, the commission informed Judge Simpson in its own formal complaint that she "Should be retired from judicial office."

    In 2015, Judge Simpson was transferred to the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn where, in one of her most noted cases, she threw out the conviction of John Wayne Bunn, who spent 17 years in prison for the 1991 murder of an off-duty corrections officer.

    "The commission sought to balance its responsibility to ensure public confidence in a capable judiciary with compassion for Judge Simpson and her family over her heartbreaking Alzheimer's diagnosis," Mr. Tembeckjian said in his statement.

    Mr. Bonus informed Judge Simpson that she seemed to have misunderstood the evidence in the case - among other things, mistakenly suggesting that a prosecution witness who testified at the hearing had testified at trial.

    In June 2018, a prosecutor with the Brooklyn district attorney's office asked Judge Simpson to step aside in a rape case after she took the unorthodox step of personally interviewing a potential witness at the trial in private and outside the presence of lawyers, a violation of administrative rules.

    Lisa Schreibersdorf, the executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, said in an email that Judge Simpson "Has been one of the smartest and best judges we have ever had" and "Was an incredibly fair prosecutor."

    Michael Farkas, who worked with the judge at the Brooklyn district attorney's office and later served as the president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, said Judge Simpson was smart, empathetic and well-liked as a jurist.

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