By Jon Schuppe
MANHATTAN — A former judge investigating Gov. David Paterson’s involvement in an ex-aide’s domestic violence case has concluded that the governor did not break the law but made "errors of judgment" when he placed phone calls to the alleged assault victim.
In a 54-page report released Wednesday afternoon, Judith Kaye also recommended more criminal charges against the former aide, David Johnson. Kaye will refer the case to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, which is already handling charges Johnson attacked an ex-girlfriend last year.
Kaye also criticized the head of Paterson's State Police protection detail and a second Paterson aide for getting involved in the domestic violence case. And she found errors in the way the New York Police Department handled the incident.
The investigation stemmed from allegations that Johnson assaulted his then-girlfriend, Sherr-Una Booker, in a Bronx apartment they shared on October 31, 2009. In February, the New York Times reported that Paterson and the State Police officials had contacted Booker by phone, raising questions as to whether they had tried to dissuade her from pursuing the case against Johnson. The case was dismissed after Booker failed to show up in court.
Paterson, who'd taken office after the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, abandoned his plans for election. He referred the case to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who recused himself because he was running for Paterson's job. Cuomo assigned Kaye, former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, as an independent counsel.
Kaye and her investigators took sworn testimony from more than 30 witnesses, including Paterson, and examined hundreds of law-enforcement reports, 911 recordings, phone records, travel documents, emails and medical records.
In her report, Kaye said she found "no evidence that the State Police or the Executive Chamber interfered with the NYPD response to the Oct. 31, 2009 domestic incident." But she was troubled in particular by Paterson's behavior.
"There were numerous telephone contacts between the governor and Booker, some that he initiated even after he became aware of the serious nature of her accusations, and even just after he referred this matter to the (Attorney General's Office)," Kaye wrote. Regardless of any good faith on the part of the governor for contacts that he initiated, these were errors of judgment."
Booker said this week that she wanted to pursue the domestic violence case against Johnson.