Investigation into former Manorhaven judge’s misconduct reveals no evidence of violations

Investigation into former Manorhaven judge’s misconduct reveals no evidence of violations
Manorhaven's Village Hall. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In 2021, Manorhaven’s Judge Peter Gallanter was investigated for complaints that included dismissing or reducing case violations for people he knew, making demeaning and sexist remarks, and using a security camera to record his courtroom. This resulted in his resignation and being barred from seeking judicial office again.

Over two years later and a series of investigations into his judicial actions, Gallanter said no professional misconduct was found against him.

Gallanter was appointed as Manorhaven’s judge in 2008 and elected to the position in 2009. He served on the seat until April 2021 when he resigned from the position in light of the investigation.

In a statement released in April 2021 by The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, an investigation began in March of 2021 into complaints that Gallanter had “dismissed or reduced tickets in multiple cases for defendants with whom he had personal relationships, repeatedly described female litigants and lawyers in demeaning and sexist terms and improperly used a security camera to record proceedings in his courtroom.”

Gallanter denied the accusations that were made against him in the original complaint that spurred the investigation.

“I use a flip phone,” Gallanter said. “I couldn’t possibly tape things, photograph people, using words like ‘dames’ and ‘broads’ are words I never used in my entire life.”

In regard to the claim that he had dismissed or reduced violations for individuals whom he personally knew, Gallanter said he was candid in that living in the village for 56 years as he has, a majority of the people facing him over violations were those he knew.

He said at a moment like this, it was clear he needed to move on from the position anyway.

“It became a situation there that I felt that I couldn’t continue anymore,” Gallanter said.

Despite this, Gallanter still denied the accusations that he treated people and their violations differently based on whether or not he knew them.

He said he also never drew any complaints from the public while serving as Manorhaven’s judge, which he said would be unlikely if he had made sexist and demeaning remarks.

At the time Gallanter was informed of the investigation, he was two months away from the village’s election and was not planning to run for another term due to problems with the former mayor, Jim Aveena.

Gallanter said he resigned on April 1, 2021 within five minutes of learning about the investigation, which was generated by an individual in the village’s Building Department. He said that it was a judicial conflict for him to sit on code violation cases since the investigation was generated by a complaint from someone in the Building Department, which meant he should resign.

But in order to resign, Gallanter said the Judicial Commission required him to sign their stipulation that prevented Gallanter from ever seeking judicial office again. But if he wanted to seek judicial office in the future, the commission would review his file again.

Gallanter said the commission had 120 days to make findings against him, which they declined to do. Then a criminal investigation ensued, where investigators from the district attorney’s office looked into Gallanter’s judicial proceedings.

“And what they found was zero,” Gallanter said.

Gallanter said New York’s Attorney Grievance Committee also began an investigation into the complaints in June 2022. He said this was because the district attorney’s public integrity division had concluded its investigation and did not find any illegal conduct, suggesting that the grievance committee should look into it as well.

On June 16, Gallanter received a letter from the grievance committee. He read the letter to Blank Slate Media which in part states:

“After deliberation, the committee determined there was no breach of professional conduct on your part, and the complaint was dismissed.”

The Attorney Grievance Committee for Nassau and Suffolk Counties told Blank Slate Media they could not comment on any open or closed investigation as their conduct is confidential.

Although the investigation has concluded and and no evidence was found of misconduct, Gallanter said the last thing he would ever want to do is serve as Manorhaven’s judge again.

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