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Replacing Justice Matthew Rosenbaum is 'a waiting game' 

With state Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum surrendering his judgeship in the new year amid a state investigation into allegations of misconduct against him, odds are good that greater Rochester will start 2020 with one less judge on the bench.

Rosenbaum was elected in November to a second 14-year term, which was to begin Jan. 1, but last week notified the state Board of Elections that he would decline to take office. He was one of 18 state Supreme Court justices serving Monroe County.

The state Office of Court Administration on Saturday announced that it had relieved Rosenbaum of his judicial duties in light of unspecified allegations about his conduct.
Under the state Constitution, Rosenbaum’s seat could be left vacant until the 2020 general election, or the governor could intervene and appoint a replacement. Rosenbaum was appointed to the bench in 2005.

COURTESY COURTS.STATE.NY.US
  • Courtesy courts.state.ny.us
Any appointed replacement would likely have to run for election in the fall.

“It’s kind of a waiting game here,” Monroe County Elections Commissioner Doug French said Monday of the situation. “Waiting to see how the state Board of Elections certifies it. Are they going to certify that three vacant seats are up in 2020, or is it a fourth vacant seat that the voters are going to be voting on?”

Cheryl Couser, a spokesperson for the state Board of Elections, said her agency has not taken action yet because the state Office of Court Administration has not yet formally notified it of a vacancy.

At the time he was relieved of his duties, Rosenbaum was presiding over 261 cases in Monroe County and 53 others in the other seven counties of the judicial district, which encompasses most of the Finger Lakes region.

State Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran, the administrative judge for the district, said in a statement Monday that those cases were being distributed among three other judges based on the type of case.

James Brown is a reporter at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at jbrown@wxxi.org.

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