October 26, 2014

At Rally, Seth Peacock J.D. ’01 Violates Election Laws

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Ithaca City Judge Seth Peacock J.D. ’01 broke New York State court system election laws when he endorsed Howie Hawkins — a Green Party candidate running for Governor — at a rally Oct. 15.

At the rally in downtown Ithaca — which was attended by approximately 30 people — Seth Peacock said his “life” is an endorsement for Hawkins, who currently works as a truck driver, also known as a “teamster.”

“On the back of my wallet here is my fancy judge [identification card]. But inside, I have my commercial driver license, from when I was a teamster for 10 years,” Peacock said in a video recorded during the rally.

According to Peacock, Hawkins spoke about the State University of New York and the City University of New York systems, which Peacock himself affiliates with.

“This situation about how does this person move from being a truck driver in New York City to attending Cornell Law School to sitting as a judge right now — how does that happen? It happens by what [Hawkins] talked about,” Peacock said. “It happens because I attended Queens University, a CUNY school.”

Peacock’s endorsement violates the administrative rules of the New York State court system. Section 100.5 of the administrative rules state that judges and candidates for elective judicial office must “refrain from inappropriate political activity.”

This includes participating in any political campaigns and any partisan political activity, publicly endorsing or opposing candidates, making speeches for a political organization or candidate, and attending political gatherings, according to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct. Judges are prohibited from these activities as long as they do not prohibit the person from his or her own campaign for judicial office.

Peacock is running against Rick Wallace for the Ithaca City Court judge position on the Working Families Party line for the Nov. 4 election. Peacock previously lost to Wallace in the Democratic primary for the judicial position, with Wallace receiving 745 votes out of 1,827 cast ballots. He trailed behind with 675 votes, The Sun previously reported.

Major Myrick Svante ’09 appointed Peacock as interim city court judge until Dec. 31 when former Judge Judith Rossiter resigned in June, The Sun previously reported.

Hawkins has never served in a local or state government position before, according to The Ithaca Journal. This is his second gubernatorial campaign, which follows unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

Peacock could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.