Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Allegedly Threatened to "Hurt" Paper : Did Judge Try to Buffalo Editors?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Allegedly Threatened to "Hurt" Paper : Did Judge Try to Buffalo Editors?

Article excerpt

During her 23 years as a journalist, Margaret Sullivan of The Buffalo News figured she'd seen enough odd things to avoid being surprised anymore. But when a judge last month called to ask that editors not run a story about the arrest of a local attorney -- and allegedly threatened to "hurt" the paper if the article appeared -- even she was taken aback. "Newspaper people pride themselves on being shock-proof," Sullivan, the paper's executive editor since 1999, told E&P. "But I have to admit, that was quite startling."

Even more startling is the fact that the man who allegedly made the call, State Supreme Court Justice Nelson H. Cosgrove, was the same judge overseeing a long- running libel suit against the News. He has since removed himself from the libel case, but the matter may not end there. Now that the New York State Commission on Judicial Review has gotten wind of the incident, Judge Cosgrove could face punitive action ranging from a public rebuke to removal from the bench.

"The Commission is aware of reports on this matter," said Robert Tembeckjian, its administrator, who would not comment further on the Cosgrove incident. "If information suggests misconduct has occurred, the Commission can caution, admonish, censure or remove a judge from office."

Sullivan said the paper had not filed a formal complaint with the Commission, but had alerted the governing body to Cosgrove's behavior. "We felt there were important issues at stake," Sullivan said. …

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