Rockland judge resigns to avoid investigation

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Judge Acker on left, with Judge Berliner

NEW CITY – An embattled state judge has resigned his seat during an investigation into wrongdoings while serving on the bench.  Rockland County Supreme Court Justice Robert Berliner has resigned, effective September 30, 2022, rather than endure the investigation of misconduct.

In 2017, Dutchess County Republican Chairman Michael McCormack filed a formal complaint against Supreme Court Judge Berliner of Rockland County and justice candidate Christi Acker in what McCormick called “the worst breach of judicial ethics I have seen in my time as a GOP county chairman.”

Judge Berliner submitted his resignation to state Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks on June 7, 2022.  In a stipulation by the committee investigating the alleged wrongdoings, Berlinger is banned from seeking or accepting a judgeship in the future.  The resignation, accepting the stipulation, terminates the investigation into complaints of wrongdoing.

McCormack’s complaint dated April 25, 2022, contains two charges, which allege that in September 2015 and November 2017, the judge engaged in prohibited political activity on behalf of two candidates for judicial office by accompanying and/or introducing them to three gatherings of community and political leaders in Orange and Rockland counties for the purpose of promoting their candidacies. The  commission has not rendered a determination as to the complaint.  

A YouTube video showing Berliner escorting now Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Christie Acker, a fellow Democrat, into a meeting with Kiryas Joel leaders, who tend to vote as a block.  At the time, Acker was seeking election to the Supreme Court in the 9th Judicial District, which covers, Dutchess, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, and Orange counties.  Acker won her election.

After learning of the resignation, McCormack said, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn. The complaint I filed with the Judicial Ethics Commission was based solely on the actions of sitting Judge Berliner. I felt his actions were not just because a sitting judge cannot be partial in political races. His stepping down as a judge was his decision and it was the right decision.”

The State Unified Court System has not commented on the complaint against Judge Acker.

Video of Berliner accompanying Acker into a political meeting: