North Salem Town Justice John Aronian admonished by New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined that North Salem Town Justice John M. Aronian should be admonished for repeatedly identifying himself as a judge in support of a neighboring couple--his court clerk and her husband--who were applying for pistol permits.
Judge Aronian agreed to the admonition.
In May 2020, Judge Aronian completed two Character Reference Letters on behalf of the couple, who were his neighbors and were applying for unrestricted pistol licenses. Although he is a practicing attorney as well as a part-time justice, he identified his occupation as “Judge” on each letter. After his court clerk’s application was denied by the Westchester County Court, Judge Aronian personally called the court to inquire about the appeals process. He then wrote a letter to the judge handling the matter, on court stationery identifying himself as a town justice. The appeal was denied.
Timeline of events:
- May 2020 - Aronian completes two Character Reference Letters on behalf of his court clerk and her husband - the couple were applying for unrestricted pistol licenses
- July 2022 - Judge Aronian is served with a Formal Written Complaint containing one charge
- September 2022 - the Administrator of the Commission, Judge Aronian, and his attorney, entered into an Agreed Statement of Facts, stipulating to the facts and sanction and waiving further submissions and oral argument
- October 2022 - Commission accepts the Agreed Statement
- November 2022 - The Commission files a determination in which all eleven members concurred
In admonishing Judge Aronian, the Commission noted that when the judge “invoked his judicial status and used his judicial stationery to write to the County Court judge to advocate for reconsideration of the denial…[Judge Aronian] created the improper appearance that he expected special treatment and deference because of his status as a judge.”
“Judicial office is a public trust, and a judge must avoid using the prestige of the bench to advance a private interest,” said Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian. “Such assertions of judicial influence undermine public confidence in the courts and the administration of justice.”
Judge Aronian did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Judge Aronian, who is an attorney, has been a Justice of the North Salem Town Court since 2016. His current term expires on December 31, 2023.