Massachusetts top court suspends judge over unwanted contact

The seven justices’ chairs at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The seven justices’ chairs at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The highest court in Massachusetts indefinitely suspended a judge without pay on Wednesday after finding that he groped a court employee during a conference in 2019, then lied about his conduct by saying it was unintentional contact.

Probate and Family Court Judge Paul M. Sushchyk was suspended “for a reasonable time to permit the executive and legislative branches to consider, if they wish, whether he should retain his judicial office," the Supreme Judicial Court said in its ruling, which upheld a decision by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The SJC said Sushchyk’s “intentional wrongdoing — both the unwanted touching of the complainant and the lying that followed — violated the canons of judicial conduct.”

An email seeking comment was sent to Sushchyk’s attorney.

The alleged inappropriate contact occurred at a three-day judicial conference in April 2019, the SJC said. The court employee and other employees were at a restaurant on the first night when Sushchyk walked behind the seated woman and put his hand on her buttock for several seconds, the SJC said. The woman filed a formal complaint several days later.

In his written explanation to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Sushchyk called his behavior unintentional, saying he was unsteady on his feet after past hip replacement surgery, a long day, and alcohol consumption, so he reached out to steady himself and accidentally touched the woman. But during a later hearing he denied touching her and said she made up the incident.

Sushchyk was nominated to the bench by Gov. Charlie Baker in January 2018, and according to a statement from the governor's office at the time, had previously been in private practice and also served in the Army Reserve from 1979 to 2003, including time with the Judge Advocate Corps.


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