Dawn A. Segal, the disqualified judge who’s seeking reinstatement to Philadelphia Municipal Court, recently denied in court papers that she fixed cases at the behest of a corrupt colleague.
In December, the Court of Judicial Discipline ordered Segal permanently removed from the bench, claiming she fixed cases on behalf of then-Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr.
Segal, an open lesbian, is appealing that decision in state Supreme Court. In her appeal, Segal repeatedly denies fixing any cases for Waters. Segal claims the Judicial Conduct Board, which probed her conduct, never accused her of fixing cases.
“Simply [put], the court created an allegation of case corruption and case fixing and attached it to Judge Segal to justify Judge Segal’s removal,” she contends in her brief.
Segal maintains she’s being unfairly blamed for Waters’ corruption.
“The Court of Judicial Discipline painted [Segal] with a broad stroke — condemning her as liable for the corrupt conduct of former judge Waters,” Segal asserts in the filing.
Waters was convicted of fraud and spent almost two years in federal prison. He was released Nov. 25, according to prison records. Segal isn’t accused of any criminal wrongdoing.
In her appeal, Segal admits to improperly discussing three cases with Waters. But she insists that none of her rulings in those cases was influenced by Waters’ input.
“[Waters’] calls did not affect case outcomes or her decisions,” Segal states.
The FBI wiretapped the conversations in 2011-12 while conducting a probe of judicial corruption in Philadelphia.
Segal urged the high court to consider the totality of the evidence, rather than focusing solely on the taped conversations.
“[T]he Court of Judicial Discipline found [Segal] guilty once the wiretaps were played. Nothing else mattered,” according to the brief. “[T]he Court of Judicial Discipline made clear that the only evidence it ever considered in this case was the wiretap evidence.”
In her brief, Segal admits she should have promptly put a stop to Waters’ calls and reported him to authorities. But those lapses don’t warrant permanent removal from the bench, she said.
“[No] precedent exists for the removal of a judge charged only with failing to report, recuse and reject the [improper] calls of a colleague,” Segal states.
Segal also notes that Pennsylvania judges involved in more serious wrongdoing were given reprimands or temporary suspensions.
Moreover, Segal contends the court deprived her of her right to be presumed innocent.
“The presumption of innocence is a core value to be accorded to all of those accused of wrongdoing. That presumption should not be cast aside or ignored merely because the accused wears a judicial robe.”
The court’s handling of Segal’s case was such a travesty of justice, it conducted a trial “in name only,” according to her brief.
As of presstime, Segal’s appeal for reinstatement remained pending. Neither side had a comment for this story.