The notoriously lenient Bronx judge recently under fire for freeing an alleged child killer with out bail has been beneath investigation by the state following claims of unprofessional and abusive courtroom conduct, The Post has realized — amid hypothesis she could possibly be pulled from dealing with felony instances.
The Commission on Judicial Conduct opened a probe into Supreme Court Judge Naita Semaj final yr after the jurist angrily ejected a veteran supervisor within the Bronx District Attorney’s Office from her courtroom throughout a listening to on April 1, 2022, sources accustomed to the case stated.
“She’s a greater protection lawyer than an precise protection lawyer,” a supply accustomed to the probe stated. “People should know the way she actually is.”
Sources alerted The Post to the probe in disgust after listening to that Semaj was applying for a big promotion to be nominated because the presiding justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, which oversees all disputed felony and civil instances in Manhattan and The Bronx.
The soft-on-crime judge, who was elected to a 14-year time period on the bench in November 2021, has earned a status for letting accused teenage criminals unfastened on the streets, even prompting rebukes from Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Rumors have been swirling amongst courtroom workers that Semaj shall be reassigned to civil instances, sources stated Thursday.
“Court officers have mentioned placing Semaj in Civil Court. It’s into account,” stated Court Officers union president Dennis Quirk.
The potential reassignment is the results of blowback over Semaj’s dealing with of a homicide case — the strangling of 15-year-old Corde Scott — during which she sprung stepdad and accused killer Tyresse Minter with out bail and berated the dead boy’s mother.
“You should deal with the victims’ households with respect,” Quirk stated. “She didn’t deal with the sufferer’s mom with respect.”
But even earlier than Semaj’s shabby remedy of the grieving girl, the Commission on Judicial Conduct had launched a probe into the judge.
It got here after the Justice of the Peace lit into Bronx prosecutors over a plea deal provide — and even kicked one out of the courtroom, sources stated.
Semaj disagreed with the seven yr jail sentence provided to Sammy Santiago, a then-17-year-old charged with tried homicide and felony use of a firearm for allegedly capturing at two different younger males fleeing a mobile phone retailer, hitting one in all them within the leg, on July 21, 2021.
She railed that the provide was too extreme, claiming Santiago was appearing in self-defense in opposition to the 2 others after they approached him inside the shop in what authorities consider was a gang-related dispute.
Santiago had a bodily confrontation with one of many males going through him, whereas the opposite man who received behind him pulled out a pointy object, which Santiago didn’t see.
His gun went off in the course of the altercation — and he then allegedly fired pictures as the 2 males fled the shop, based on a courtroom transcript and sources with data of the case.
Ilya Kharkover, then the deputy chief for the Bronx DA’s violent crime enterprise bureau, provided a 5 yr plea after the judge complained — which solely appeared to set her off extra.
“What you’re going to do is step out of my courtroom,” Semaj fumed, based on a transcript of the listening to obtained by The Post.
A startled Kharkover then stated “completely” — to which Semaj snarkily replied, “Have an excellent day. Thank you.
“Because you might be, clearly, clearly, a waste of all the things.”
She then continued to rant about Kharkover: “To step foot in right here and faux that there’s been a full consideration of the info and circumstances and on the finish of it that’s how you bought to seven years in jail is nonsense.
On April 1, 2022, The Bronx District Attorney’s workplace offered to Judge Naita A. Semaj a plea deal for Sammy Santiago, who had shot at two individuals, wounding one, when he was 17.
Semaj: Good afternoon. You can have a seat. So it’s my understanding the People’s provide on this case is seven years jail.
Ilya Kharkover from the Bronx DA’s workplace: That’s proper, Your Honor.
Semaj: Help me perceive how you bought there.
Kharkover: This is tried homicide. It’s a really robust case. He shot at someone multiple time as they’re fleeing. It’s an applicable provide, Your Honor.
Semaj: Have you seen the video?
Semaj: Okay. So within the video you don’t see the 2 individuals come into the shop as Mr. Santiago’s within the retailer; they arrive into the shop with their fingers of their pocket, clearly, as if they’ve one thing. They instantly method Mr. Santiago; take no matter is of their pocket out. One of them, they greater dude, has one thing that’s, a minimum of, 7 inches lengthy. The different man has one thing, instantly, begins wanting like he’s making an attempt to stab Mr. Santiago within the facet.
Help me perceive how the one tried homicide you see is the one Mr. Santiago — excuse me. Help me perceive. So you’re so involved about violence? What occurred with these two as a result of they, clearly, got here into the shop with weapons —
Semaj: — with weapons. Attempted to instantly begin stabbing Mr. Santiago. Did you see that half within the video?
Kharkover: Yes, Judge, however what about after they flee and he shoots after them; is anyone stabbing him then?
Semaj: Are you critical proper now?Semaj asks if a case has been pursued in opposition to the 2 males Santiago shot at.
Kharkover: I’m looking for out the reply to Your Honor’s query.
Semaj: Well, you need to know the reply.
Kharkover: It’s not my case, Your Honor.
After forwards and backwards, Kharkover amends the plea deal.
Kharkover: For what it’s value, is the defendant fascinated with 5 years?
Defense lawyer Walter Fields: Was that addressed to me?
Semaj: You’re not going to reply that. (To Kharkover) What you’re going to do is step out of my courtroom.
Semaj: Have an excellent day. Thank you. Because you might be, clearly, clearly, a waste of all the things.
Semaj: That is mindless.
Semaj: And don’t return.
Kharkover: Clearly. Clearly.
The lawyer leaves, leaving one other lawyer, Josh Couce, representing the individuals. Judge Semaj rants.
Semaj: This complete place that your workplace is taking that you simply wish to grandstand: Lock all of them up. Anybody that has a gun, lock all of them up.
The downside is all people else who’s doing all these different horrible issues; who’s randomly attacking individuals on the street; simply because they don’t have a gun you’re, mainly, giving all these individuals a free move and that sends a horrible message.
. . . You can not inform me they have been stepping into there to do something apart from making an attempt to kill him (indicating). But nobody offers a rattling about that.
And once I say nobody I imply the People; your workplace; or the NYPD as a result of nobody cares. Instead, you filed these complaints the place it simply seems as if he’s, actually, standing round inflicting an issue and pulling out a gun.
. . . And how are you aware that someone was really shot?
Couce: Because the sufferer went to the hospital. We have medical data; now we have video surveillance. We have the medical data. We have —
Semaj wonders why the wounded man isn’t charged with against the law as effectively. The lawyer responds it was up the NYPD and the perfect he could possibly be charged with is a misdemeanor. Semaj isn’t having it. She insists they reconvene the following week and signifies she’s going to go simple on Santiago.
“It is full nonsense. I’m disgusted. That is completely, insane,” she seethed.
“His angle — he needn’t ever step foot on this half once more. Ever step foot on this half once more,” Semaj stated in her tongue lashing.
Apparently addressing the opposite prosecutor current, assistant district lawyer Joshua Couce, Semaj took intention on the DA’s workplace — claiming prosecutors have been solely in gun crimes.
“This complete place that your workplace is taking that you simply wish to grandstand: Lock all of them up. Anybody that has a gun, lock all of them up,” she stated.
Kharkover and Couce declined to remark.
The DA’s workplace, based on sources, carried out its personal inside probe of prosecutors’ complaints about Semaj.
A senior lawyer assigned to the official judicial watchdog inquiry into Semaj carried out interviews, sources stated, as just lately as October.
A spokesperson for the Commission on Judicial Conduct declined remark.
The watchdog panel can impose self-discipline if it finds a judge engaged in misconduct — starting from an admonishment or reprimand, censure or removing from workplace.
Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, stated, “We respect the integrity of the confidential processes of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.”
Asked what she considered Semaj’s remedy of the prosecutors within the Santiago case, the spokeswoman stated, “Of course we count on everybody within the courtroom to be handled with dignity and respect.”
Semaj was not out there for remark. Calls to connect with her chamber for remark have been referred to the state Office of Court Administration.
“Complaints made to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct are confidential, so if there may be or will not be one we wouldn’t bear in mind, nor would we have the ability to confirm its veracity,” stated OCA spokesman Lucian Chalfen.
Semaj just lately got here beneath a firestorm of criticism for releasing Minter, a 28-year-old parolee, with out bail within the alleged strangulation killing of his stepson.
The questionable choice provoked such outrage that Hochul rebuked Semaj by saying that state corrections officers had rearrested Minter for allegedly violating parole.
Semaj added insult to damage within the case — berating grieving mom Karen Glenn for exhibiting up late to the arraignment, simply earlier than refusing to set bail for the boy’s accused killer.
OCA wouldn’t verify that Semaj was being reassigned.
“Bronx judges are assigned and sit based mostly on the wants of the courtroom. Those assignments are decided by the Chief Administrative Judge in session with the Presiding Justice of the suitable appellate division,” Chalfen stated in an announcement. “Currently we’re within the strategy of evaluating the judicial wants of a lot of courts in New York City and could have particular adjustments within the close to future.”