Albany County District Attorney David Soares, the much-maligned prosecutor who is seeking re-election in the fall, was quietly censured earlier this month by an appellate court in Rochester for criticizing a judge who was handling his high-profile investigation into steroids sales in Florida.
Soares’ office knocked a decision in 2010 by Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick to dismiss one of the five indictments against one of the alleged steroid sellers and to appoint a special prosecutor because of civil action against Soares in the case. A court later let his office continue its prosecution.
Soares ripped Herrick’s decision in a news release, according to the court papers, saying “Judge Herrick’s decision is a get-out-of-jail-free card for every criminal defendant in New York state. His message to defendants is: ‘If your DA is being too tough on you, sue him and you can get a new one.'”
The five-member appeals court ruled May 9 that Soares’ statement was “objectively false.” The Times Union first reported on the censure this morning.
The court decision said it took into consideration Soares’ “expression of remorse and his representation to this court that he has instituted procedures in his office for review of statements prior to their release to the public.”
But the court — in a unanimous decision — said it also considered Soares past disciplinary history, which includes two letters of admonition “for making improper and prejudicial public statements regarding pending criminal matters.”
And as a result, “We conclude that respondent should be censured.”
There was no immediate comment from Soares’ office.
His office said in a statement to the Times Union that: “District Attorney Soares respects and accepts the Rochester court’s decision, for he made a poor choice of words. The district attorney promised the citizens of Albany County that he would stop the pipeline of illegal prescription drugs into our community and, as such, will continue to prosecute all illegal drug distributors.
Soares was widely panned for his two investigations into Troopergate involving former Gov. Eliot Spitzer for not being more aggressive in his probe. He faces a Democratic primary challenge from local lawyer Lee Kindlon.
Here’s the decision: