The law attracted Craig Doran early on.
He first became a lawyer after graduating from Canandaigua Academy, but soon dove into lawmaking, running and winning a state assembly race at the age of 29.
His subsequent career as a judge brought him to the office of administrative judge of New York’s 7th Judicial District, which requires him to supervise more than 300 judges and more than 500 employees with a budget of around $70 million.
An administrative judge can do a lot like assign judges certain cases and move judges from court to court, but he or she cannot fire an elected judge; only the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission can do that.
A few week ago, the JCC ruled on the case of Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio, who has been in and out of the news since her DWI more than two years ago.
The commission recommended the removal of Astacio from the bench.
While she appeals, she’ll be suspended with pay.
Prior to that news, it was Doran’s job to decide how to handle the situation that has drawn public ire.
Doran sat down with Adam Chodak to talk about the case and his headline-making decisions.
Adam: This has been challenging…
Doran: It has been. This has been a difficult and challenging for me personally to have a colleague go through what the judge has been going through.
Adam: You’ve heard the complaints from the community that she’s still being paid and she’s not working. What’s been your take the entire time not being able to respond to all that?
Doran: I’m frustrated that the public doesn’t have the knowledge of the good things that are happening in this building and the great work we do to bring justice to this community.
Adam: Judge Astacio is out there saying after all this happened she felt punished, in her words, put into a broom closet to work, given menial tasks. Do you feel that what you decided was a form of punishment?
Doran: My mission throughout all of this was to ensure the integrity of the judiciary in the 7th district, not to punish anybody in particular.
Adam: What went into the decision to have her go through the regular security line…
Doran: I need to protect the people who work here and people who are coming through the doors for justice.
Adam: Having her go through security how does that accomplish that?
Doran: I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to discuss with you specific concerns about a specific case that I’ve had, I can only tell you that the decisions you speak of have been the made with the safety of everybody in mind.
Adam: One of the conclusions from the commission is that there were issues before the DWI. Did you see those as well?
Doran: I can assure the public that those issues if that had come to attention would have been handled appropriately.