Leticia Astacio has been officially stripped of her title of Rochester City Court Judge after ongoing legal troubles following a DWI conviction.
“I'm just trying to realize that being a judge never defined me. It was just a job," she said from her Rochester home.
According to Astacio she got the call Tuesday morning from her attorney informing her that she will no longer serve as a city court judge in Rochester.
“I became a judge to make a difference. Maybe for not as long as I wanted to, but for the people that appeared in my court room, they got to see me being the change that I intended to be.”
The decision by the Court of Appeals to remove her from the bench means she will no longer receive her six-figure salary. Astacio said she is unsure whether she will recieve a paycheck this week.
“The things I did on the bench are things that they are trying to get other judges to do. I think that that should have mattered but, who am I?,” she said.
The former judge chose to stay home Tuesday to avoid critics she believes were praying on her downfall.
“No matter what you can’t take away anything that I've accomplished in life," Astacio said. "We have a very big divide in our country and if people thought that by removing me it would smooth it over to a degree, I'm glad they got what they wanted. I think that it's another sign that there are two Americas.”
Despite being removed from the bench, Astacio said she can still practice law in New York. She is considering going back to work as a lawyer.
“I don’t know what’s next for me other than greatness.”
Astacio touched on a wide range of topics in our exclusive interview:
“I can just be myself. If I had to pretend to be someone I never would have gotten this job in the first place. So for the last three years trying to do everything through a lens of what would the public think that already hates me and wants me to die think was incredibly stressful and I don’t have to worry about that now.”
More than Money:
“I made money before I was a judge. It’s not about the money. It’s about the change and [now] I’m a lot less limited on what I can say, what I can do.”
“It was just a job. I’m a lawyer, which is still just a job. So it’s getting under that? Who am I? I’m a social worker. That’s still just a job.”
“I didn’t believe in cash bail, so I didn’t set it on the bench. I didn’t believe in incarceration so I didn’t incarcerate people. I utilized alternatives to incarceration, I utilized restorative justice, I didn’t put people on probation because our probation system functions to put people back in jail I don’t believe in that.”
“The people voted for me. The people still want me. What did you do? You removed an elected official and meanwhile you appointed a Supreme Court judge who the people very clearly didn’t want.”
“The one good thing that came out of this is that I have never felt so supported by the community that I love. You know what I mean? The community that I came to do all of this for. I didn’t come to do this for everyone. I only wanted to be a Rochester City Court Judge. You didn’t see me running for county court. I’m qualified, I could’ve. No thanks. The community I wanted to do this for can see this for what it is and they’ve never wavered.”
“I did this because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I figured whatever the outcome would be, that’s how it was supposed to be. That’s really how I life my life. I really live my life thinking whatever the outcome is that’s what it’s supposed to happen is what will happen. And even if you don’t know why something happens the way that it does, it doesn’t mean it’s a mistake. So I’m going to accept that this is God’s divine plan for my life.”
On Being Hated:
“I think that’s weird to get excited about anyone’s downfall.”
“You can be like ‘ha ha ha ha you’re not a judge anymore.’ You never were.”
Astacio's long legal saga is not yet over. She pleaded not guilty to a felony gun charge on October 1 and is scheduled for a return to court for a hearing on November 29.