Judge’s ‘inappropriate’ Facebook comments lead to ‘hard lesson’

Facebook doesn't like it, thumbs downThe New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended a censure against Darien Town Judge Jennifer R. Nunnery. At the center of the court’s ethics investigation is a series of comments Nunnery made on Facebook from December 2020 to April 2021.

So what was Nunnery’s social media presence like that caused so much uproar? Well, in one instance, she said that she cross-examines someone and is “absolutely AWESOME at tearing them to pieces on the stand like the baddest bitch alive!!!!” was more therapeutic than shopping and marked it with “#ladyboss #bossbitch BAHAHAHA!…”

She also wrote, “Driving the streets of my hometown after getting a tan and thought I recognized the ass of one of my favorite Marines walking across the Tops parking lot lol.” Comments on an older post that re-shared stating, “Everybody was so (evocatively) hung over, lol;” And drawing male genitalia on the face of someone who passed out also caught the Disciplinary Committee’s attention.

Nunnery also liked the announcement of candidates for the Buffalo City Court and a local school board that “made at least the appearance that they had endorsed those candidates,” which violated court rules.

In a lengthy statement, in which Nunnery claimed responsibility for her “inappropriate” Facebook activities, she told the New York Law Journal:

“I didn’t realize that the job of a judge is a 24-hour, 24-hour job that requires proper decency at all times and in all situations. There are no exceptions. It was inappropriate that when communicating with a fellow veteran on social media, I borrowed my military persona from years of service in the Army, although this was in no way meant to be disrespectful.”

“The same applies to my comments on a witness hearing, which went particularly well for my client. I should have known better and taken full responsibility for my actions.”

She also noted that she was at a difficult point in her marriage when this happened and that the strain “was unbearable as my family is of the utmost importance.” And she noted that she is a different person now as she is “focused on my faith, which is now an important part of my daily life.” I strive in all my endeavors to make sure the words I speak are the same on social media, really reflect who I am as a person. I am a hardworking lawyer and a devoted wife and mother. As a judge, I always act respectfully, fairly and neutrally towards those who appear in front of me. That has priority.”

Concluding, Nunnery said: “I learned a hard lesson from this experience. My responsibilities as a judge require that I handle all my affairs with respect and responsibility, both inside and outside the courtroom. I will not let the behavior leading up to this sanction dictate who I push.”

Nunnery has 30 days to request a review of the Commission’s decision. Otherwise a formal complaint will be made.

Kathryn Rubino is Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best so please contact them. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments, and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.

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