Pretend you are a New York State judge: on one hand, the .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver that you carry to protect yourself from angry people wielding pickaxes has a broken firing pin and needs to be fixed. On the other hand, repairs can be costly, and hey, what are those plush judge's chambers for if you can't ease into your leather chair and perform some do-it-yourself gunsmithing? We can only speculate what Judge Vincent Sgueglia was thinking after he accidentally fired a round into the walls of the 140-year-old Owego courthouse, but it may have included, "Phew, good thing I'm a judge!"
The Times reports that Judge Sgueglia was censured yesterday by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for the incident, which occurred in 2010 while court was in recess. Words With Friends apparently isn't enough to keep Judge Sgueglia stimulated on breaks, and presumably the new Firing Pin Repair app isn't either (it just doesn't feel the same as the real thing).
But perhaps most troubling is that the judge approved his own gun permit in 2005. “Any judge has to be disqualified from any case in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” the commission's administrator said. Judge Sgueglia, who has presided as the only judge in Tioga County Court since 1993, will likely not face any additional penalties, as he recently reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. Judge Sgueglia began carrying the gun after several threats were made against his life, and kept the gun in his desk drawer.
The ordeal makes us think of something Arizona's Republican Governor, Jan Brewer, recently told New York Times Magazine, defending a law she signed that allows gun owners with concealed-carry permits to pack heat in bars: "Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people that are gun owners are very responsible." Indeed, they're usually sober as a judge.