Paladino targets judge in new complaint regarding his School Board removal

May 11, 2018

"Well, Yogi Berra said, ' Its not over 'til it's over.'"

Carl Paladino has filed a complaint with the state court system regarding his removal from the Buffalo School Board last year. It targets a judge who heard his case and her husband.

Carl Paladino (right) and his attorney attend a state Education Department hearing in Albany.
Credit Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Judge Catherine Nugent Panepinto is married to former state Senator Marc Panepinto.

"For no good reason, he was present at the courtroom," Paladino says regarding his request for an injunction in fall 2017 to stay the state Education Department's order to discharge him from the School Board, pending a trial on the matter. "He spoke to (Paladino attorney) Dennis (Vacco) and made it sound like he had something to do with the judge's decision, which was to deny our application for an injunction."

Paladino says Marc Panepinto "was given over $1 million" by New York State United Teachers and the Buffalo Teachers Federation for his Senate election campaign. He says NYSUT also "sent one of its political people" to run Marc Panepinto’s campaign.

"If he and his wife didn't feel conflicted over that, I mean, it would be really, really...they're out there," Paladino says, "and they shouldn't have the responsibilities and the licenses to practice law and be a judge."

Given the conflict, the fact that Judge Panepinto was a former Buffalo School Board member and that the teachers unions supported Paladino's removal from the School Board, Paladino has written the court system's Administrative Judge, the Attorney Grievance Committee and the Judicial Conduct Commission charging that Judge Panepinto should have recused herself from his case.

"Obviously they didn't take it into consideration and I think it's an abridgment of their responsibilities as attorneys and jurists," Paladino says.

He is asking that both Panepintos be investigated "to determine whether the judge and her husband should be removed and/or disbarred for their actions in this matter." He is further requesting "that Judge Panepinto’s decision be vacated and the matter be referred for rehearing to another judge."

WBFO asked Paladino why the Panepinto conflict was not brought up at the time of his removal.

"The hearing came on very suddenly. Our lawyer went over to the hearing. She denied our motion from the bench and that's how quickly it happened," he says. "The knowledge that they had been so supported by NYSUT in both of their elections to office, I mean, that should have been so obvious to them to demand a recusal."