LaBombard suspended with pay, can train others but not hold court pending appeal

By RACHAEL OSBORNE

ELLENBURG DEPOT -- An Ellenburg town justice has been suspended with pay, pending an appeals decision by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Justice Dennis LaBombard is training newly elected Ellenburg Justice Kenneth Prevo, who took office Jan. 1.

Ellenburg Town Supervisor James McNeil said LaBombard can train the other justice but cannot preside over any cases.

The supervisor said he was never officially notified by the State Commission on the decision for suspension. LaBombard gave McNeil a letter dated Feb. 7 from the State Court of Appeals, which was presented at a recent Town Council meeting.

The letter says the justice "is suspended, with pay, effective immediately ... pending disposition of his request for review of a determination by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct."

On Nov. 1, 2007, the state disciplinary panel found the justice gave his step-grandchildren lenient sentences, tried to get another judge to go easy on one of his step-grandsons, changed bail after a defendant's mother asked for that outside court and asserted his position as a town justice after he was involved in a minor car accident.

LaBombard is appealing the panel's decision.

In recent months, some residents have held rallies, written letters to the State Commission and circulated petitions in support of the justice.

People who wrote letters in support of LaBombard to the disciplinary panel recently received notices back saying the letters can only be accepted through the justice's attorney and must be received by March 13.

Richard Pearson, who started an unofficial committee that backs the justice, said hundreds of letters were submitted.

"I couldn't believe how many letters there were.

"Being he was suspended with pay, it looks like they're (the State Commission) rethinking their decision," Pearson speculated.

"We don't really know how long it will take them to make a decision," McNeil said. "It could be a month; it could be four months."

"Only time will tell," Pearson said. "The town still supports Dennis LaBombard."

rosborne@pressrepublican.com

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