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Something to Think About: Learning a Lesson from Former Judge Astacio

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn –


new michael vaughnOn Aug. 24, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed Judge Leticia Astacio from the bench, citing her previous DWI arrest, and its aftermath, as its basis.

Astacio has been in the news for quite a while now, based on her initial DWI arrest in February of 2016.

One might say this initial arrest was the reason for the issues which eventually led to her removal; however, I would say that this is not true.

With all of the available information regarding drinking and driving today, for someone to continue to drink and drive shows either a complete disregard for the law, or that the person has a deep problem that they need to deal with.

As a result, the first lesson we can learn from former Judge Astacio, is that, when we are made aware of our problems, we should seek help.

We all make mistakes, and there is no one but Jesus who is perfect.

Consequently, we should all have empathy for the former judge, because we all know that we have shortcomings, and that we would all like to have a second chance if we were in her shoes.

Also, if she did not see that she needed help, it would have been so helpful for her family to seek help for her, instead of ignoring what had taken place.

When we have family members who have issues of dependency, we do them no good if we ignore the problem by blaming someone else.

That person may need help, and, as family members, that person’s relatives should be committed to getting them the help they need, so that they can move forward from any situation.

Getting help for Leticia Astacio was a missed opportunity, but it’s a lesson we can all learn for ourselves, and for our families.

It is my prayer that the former judge will finally get the help that it appears she may need.

Another lesson we can learn from this case is that each of us should own all of our actions.

And, when I say “own” our actions, I mean that, when we are confronted with the problems we face, we should humble ourselves; “own” our actions, and take whatever punishment may come as a result of our decisions.

As I mentioned before, former Judge Astacio made a horrible mistake (although mistakes, big and small, are common to everyone) which I believe people likely would have forgiven her for.

Even the authorities who govern over judges would most likely have forgiven her.

However, for reasons we may never know, Astacio decided she was going to go against the law she had been sworn to uphold.

And, as a result, her behavior essentially forced the hand of the commission.

While there have been those who have tried to blame others for her situation, she really only has to look in the mirror to find the person who is to blame.

The final lesson is this: we should always follow the instructions authorities have given to us.

It is good to have lawyers, in order to ensure that our rights are not violated, but, when a judgment is handed down by the court, we should comply.

Ultimately, this is what the former judge would have expected from those whom she pronounced judgment over in her courtroom.

Nonetheless, regardless of how this situation eventually ends, I do feel sad for former Judge Astacio, because this did not have to happen.

I also hope that everyone who is following this case has learned that we should humble ourselves in the face of adversity, and that we should abide by any subsequent consequences which may occur as a result of our decisions, in order to grow and move forward!

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(Michael Vaughn currently serves as senior pastor at New Wineskin Church in Rochester.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)