Saugerties town justice Claudia Andreassen has resigned as of September 30, halfway through her term, following a two-year investigation by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In her agreement, she stipulates that she will neither run for nor accept any judicial appointment.
Specifically, the commission charged:
– Andreassen’s “relationship with the Saugerties Police Department was at times adversarial”
– She was discourteous and made disrespectful comments toward court staff and courtroom spectators.
– She attempted to effectuate certain staffing decisions without involving her co-judge or the town board.
– She violated prohibitions on campaign activity by judges, and
– She failed to maintain professional competence in the law.
“Judges are obliged to be competent in the law, to be and appear fair in the administration of justice, and to be courteous toward all with whom they deal in an official capacity,” stated a release from the Commission on Judicial Conduct in a press release. The multiple complaints were serious, “and her permanent departure from the bench was appropriate.”
In a statement, Andreassen denied wrongdoing and said she was resigning to avoid the expense and inconvenience of prolonged litigation. “I can no longer financially or emotionally afford to fight the constant assault of my detractors, who continually file endless and often fabricated allegations against me.”
Andreassen stated that she faced “constant interference and intrusion by the town’s executive, legislative bodies and appointees – all of whom were attempting to undermine the independence of the judiciary.” She said she did not have the energy “to correct inaccuracies.”
Andreassen was appointed in 2012 to fill the unexpired term of town justice Wendy Ricks, and was subsequently elected to the position in 2016 and 2020. Her term would have ended in 2024.
Andreassen agreed to step down by this Friday, September 30.
Andreassen is not an attorney. Before running for judge, she worked in the Ulster County Probation Department.
Police chief Joseph Sinagra and Saugerties town supervisor Fred Costello both declined comment on the charges against Andreassen. Costello said the board would announce the vacancy and offer “a window for applications.” The town board will interview candidates to decide who will fill the remainder of Andreassen’s term. He expected the board to make a decision on a replacement by Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, town justice Chris Kraft has agreed to handle Andreassen’s cases, Costello said.