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Judge’s Threat to Paper Leads to His Recusal


— December 5, 2003

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is apparently investigating a Buffalo judge who is accused of threatening to retaliate against Western New York’s largest newspaper because the publication refused to hold a story about the arrest of a prominent local attorney.

A source close to the matter said the commission has made inquiries into a series of incidents that led New York Supreme Court Justice Nelson H. Cosgrove to recuse himself from an unrelated libel action against The Buffalo News.

Cosgrove asked to be removed from the pending libel case after The News submitted an extraordinary set of motion papers and affidavits in which two editors said the judge attempted to use the power of his office to bully the press. Unclear, however, is whether Cosgrove will step aside from any future case involving The News, as the paper requested in its motion.

The tension between The Buffalo News, a 224,000 circulation daily, and Cosgrove is rooted in an incident last month when the veteran judge was presiding over a medical malpractice trial that had nothing to do with the newspaper.

On Nov. 12, The News was preparing a story about the arrest of attorney Carmen P. Tarantino, who was representing the defendant in the medical malpractice trial underway before Justice Cosgrove.

Tarantino, of Brown & Tarantino in Buffalo, had been arrested Nov. 1 on the complaint of a former girlfriend and charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal mischief for allegedly breaking into her bedroom. The News was planning to publish an article on Tarantino’s arrest in its Nov. 13 editions and contacted his attorney, Mark Mahoney, for comment, according to court papers.

Later that day, Justice Cosgrove called The News and asked editors to hold the Tarantino story on the grounds that publication could compromise the malpractice trial, according to motion papers. When The News refused Cosgrove’s request, court papers allege, the judge threatened to retaliate if given the opportunity.

Read the details here from the New York Law Journal.


The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is apparently investigating a Buffalo judge who is accused of threatening to retaliate against Western New York’s largest newspaper because the publication refused to hold a story about the arrest of a prominent local attorney.

A source close to the matter said the commission has made inquiries into a series of incidents that led New York Supreme Court Justice Nelson H. Cosgrove to recuse himself from an unrelated libel action against The Buffalo News.

Cosgrove asked to be removed from the pending libel case after The News submitted an extraordinary set of motion papers and affidavits in which two editors said the judge attempted to use the power of his office to bully the press. Unclear, however, is whether Cosgrove will step aside from any future case involving The News, as the paper requested in its motion.

The tension between The Buffalo News, a 224,000 circulation daily, and Cosgrove is rooted in an incident last month when the veteran judge was presiding over a medical malpractice trial that had nothing to do with the newspaper.

On Nov. 12, The News was preparing a story about the arrest of attorney Carmen P. Tarantino, who was representing the defendant in the medical malpractice trial underway before Justice Cosgrove.

Tarantino, of Brown & Tarantino in Buffalo, had been arrested Nov. 1 on the complaint of a former girlfriend and charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal mischief for allegedly breaking into her bedroom. The News was planning to publish an article on Tarantino’s arrest in its Nov. 13 editions and contacted his attorney, Mark Mahoney, for comment, according to court papers.

Later that day, Justice Cosgrove called The News and asked editors to hold the Tarantino story on the grounds that publication could compromise the malpractice trial, according to motion papers. When The News refused Cosgrove’s request, court papers allege, the judge threatened to retaliate if given the opportunity.

Read the details here from the New York Law Journal.

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