India Walton: Judge who put Byron Brown on ballot is ‘farthest thing from an impartial judge’

India Walton-Byron Brown mayoral race

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Democratic mayoral candidate India Walton called a federal judge’s decision to allow incumbent Byron Brown on the November ballot a “travesty” and “a mockery of justice” – but her list of grievances didn’t end there.

Walton also took exception to the judge who gave the ruling: U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra Jr., a Donald Trump appointee who is the brother of prominent Buffalo developer and Brown donor Nick Sinatra.

Judge Sinatra addressed claims of impartiality from the bench Friday, saying although there was no formal request to recuse himself from the case, he did receive phone calls this week asking him about a potential conflict of interest. The judge said he gave it consideration and saw no reason why he could not be objective in the case.

“We don’t pick and choose our cases,” Sinatra said.

That did nothing to appease Walton, who blasted Sinatra in a series of tweets and said she will appeal the decision.

“The hearing should never have proceeded with Judge John Sinatra presiding in the first place. Sinatra is the farthest thing from an impartial judge,” she wrote.

Walton called Sinatra “a far-right activist, appointed by Donald Trump on the strength of his staunch partisan conservatism and contempt for fair, impartial jurisprudence” and spent several tweets highlighting Nick Sinatra’s connections to Brown.

“We are confident that the 2nd Circuit will recognize standing law, reject today’s improper ruling, and appropriately rebuff Judge Sinatra for his far right activist decision today,” the Twitter thread concluded.

The Code of Conduct for U.S. judges states that a judge “shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” An example of such an instance could be when “the judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person related to either within the third degree of relationship … (is) known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

The Code of Conduct does consider a brother to be within the third degree of relationship to federal judges.

Brown was asked about Sinatra’s perceived conflict of interest Friday after the decision was announced.

“I’m not worried about the optics at all,” Brown said. “I don’t question the integrity of the courts.”

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