Some of the more serious problems uncovered in the report include a duplication of town courts in some areas and a severe shortage in other areas; justices who hand down sentences with seeming disregard for the law; and inadequate courtroom facilities.
The report referred to one judge who threatened a litigant for not adhering to a court order, writing to him on court stationery, “Remember, I know where you live.” The report also described one courtroom that was no more than a small, poorly ventilated room attached to the town garage. Judges told the commission that the room got so hot in the summer that they had to wear shorts while hearing cases.
ADDED: Here's email from Dan Majchrzak of Rochester, NY:
I am a NY attorney, former ADA and currently a law clerk for a State Supreme Court Justice. I can tell you as a former ADA, when I worked in town and village courts, some of the justices were indeed laypersons, but their results and decisions were almost always where the ball would fall if a lawyer-judge were presiding. Being the prosecutor in a small village court with a lay judge, I had a real interest in ensuring that the record was correct and that the judge made the right call--win or lose for me. These judges were always thorough and fair and in many instances, put far more thought into an issue than many lawyer judges would have. I suspect that this report is a call for a full employment act for the bar. The current system has been in place for over 100 years and the results are fair. As far as lay judge misconduct, there is an equal amount of misconduct reported on lawyer judges across the state which is the subject of judicial misconduct reports. So, just thought I'd give you an added perspective on this.