Blockbuster Case Now Playing in Family Court: It’s Rocky vs Rambo


“I would love to come off this bench and wipe that smirk off your face!” Judge Gerald Popeo to a litigant in his city courtroom. Despite such physical threats and racial comments with lawyer witnesses, i.e. “country niggers” and “cigar store Indian,” the Commission on Judicial Conduct allowed him to continue now as an “Acting Family Judge” in Koziol v Hawse-Koziol case.


“You come off that bench Gerry, and I’ll knock you out of your black dress.” Photo of a Judge Popeo Family Court litigant, Civil Rights Advocate, Dr. Leon Koziol,  taken in 75 degree Central Park, February 21, 2018

By Dr. Leon Koziol

Parenting Rights Institute

Before continuing with this latest post on judge corruption in our nation’s divorce and family courts, I would like to say Hello to all the judges, lawyers, doctors, professors, investigators, commissions, national and local news reporters,  and even New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore who may be monitoring this website, Leon Confidential informants continue to report a growing number of “fans.”

Many of you are friends, others are bent on revenge, and most are seeking information or assistance. If you’re new to this site, opened in 2010, you’re in good company with more than 6,000 followers from Europe to Hawaii. This will be a “breaking news” post you will want to make viral because it is yet another shockingly true story. As we have assured time and again: “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

Judge Gerald Popeo is a racist and pompous judge who managed to keep his job in an upstate New York city court despite a battery of ethics charges brought against him by a prosecutor, public defender, an African-American lawyer and court victims before the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct. Because its proceedings are secret, we cannot tell you how many complaints he has faced during nearly two decades on the bench.

On February 12, 2015, Judge Popeo was merely censured by that Commission instead of removed, although to his credit, the Commission Chair, Thomas Klonick, dissented. He voted to sustain the findings made by a hearing judge concerning those charges of using racial slurs as a judge. They included at least two depictions of a prosecutor acting like a “cigar store Indian” and another, to an African-American attorney no less, where Popeo “joked” that New York City black people refer to upstate black people as “country niggers.”

That’s not all, the charges and findings that were accepted included temper tantrums and serial contempt citations without the requisite warnings and due process protections. In one case, evidently copying some of the movies that Gerry has watched (i.e. “My Cousin Vinny”), Judge Popeo sentenced a man to five successive thirty day periods in jail for each facial gesture or comment about the lack of justice in his courtroom. Only after getting a phone call from his chief administrative judge, James “Bond” Tormey, did he reduce the 150 day sentence.

But among the “injudicious” acts which the Commission did accept for public censure, the one which was most disturbing is a violent threat from the bench made to another litigant in his courtroom. After noting a grin on his face, Judge Gerald Popeo, evidently assuming the mantra of judicial Rocky Balboa, warned that he “would love to come off the bench and wipe that smirk off your face.” The Commission could not excuse this street thug remark because those in the same court could hear it clearly and it was recorded by a court stenographer.

But it gets better (or worse depending how entertained you are by Judge “Rocky” Popeo). After the litigant was excused and exiting the courtroom, a different kind of grin caught Judge Rocky’s attention. So he summoned him back for a contempt sentence because, in his delusional mindset, this poor sap “gave (Popeo another) nice big smirk …. as if to say, blank-you judge.” Seriously Sylvestor? Even the real Stallone might have you committed to a mental institution.

As a lawyer and litigant in Popeo’s kangaroo court and many others over a thirty year period, I have made all sorts of grins, objections and human expressions which could fall in the Popeo contempt playbook. And now this judge has been assigned to my custody and support cases as an “Acting Family Judge” in a court he was never elected to. How’s that for domestic violence prevention and our children’s “best interests?” You women better not grin in Gerry Balboa’s boxing court.

Yes you read that correctly. After my family court matters were assigned to remote courts at Lake Ontario and near the Canadian border, with 150 mile round trips to receive decisions already written, Judge James Bond has now assigned a judge only a few miles from our (parent) homes who threatens violence. Welcome to Trial Judge #41 assigned since my originally uncontested divorce was filed 12 years ago in 2006, a judicial record by most accounts.

It occurred after the Oswego and Herkimer judges recently stepped down. Judges #39 and #40 gave no reason, and I was given no notice of their disqualifications, but they came after my complaints to oversight authorities. Those published complaints focused on their unauthorized back room involvement in each other’s separate cases to orchestrate unlawful service of a support summons threatening as much as seven (7) years in jail. That’s more than violent felons and child molesters get. My pedophile custody judge Bryan Hedges (look him up) got no prison time!

I had been challenging service by mail on the face of that summons and petition because it leads to innocent non-appearances or fatal law enforcement for money collection purposes. A sensationalized example is an unarmed African-American shot dead five times in the back while fleeing a support warrant at a traffic stop in South Carolina  (Walter Scott). 

When I became one such victim of a non-appearance, an earlier support magistrate corrected the human error over the phone in 2012. But not Gerry Balboa. He was on some kind of mission given to him by his boss Judge James “Bond” Tormey who assigned all the other 40 trial jurists to my family court cases. He did so in a manner which mirrored the retributions inflicted on a chief family court clerk which resulted in a $600,000 recovery against “Bond, James Bond” in federal court for her refusal to engage in Tormey’s “political espionage.”

Again we don’t make these things up here at Leon Look it up at Morin v Tormey, 626 F.3d 40 (2nd Cir. 2010). Shameless Tormey was neither removed from his position nor did he resign from the bench. With my full page advertisements and editorials published over the past few months in Syracuse, Utica and Watertown, New York mainstream newspapers, testimony before the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, and continued exposure of rampant judicial misconduct nationwide, the retaliation elevated to unprecedented levels in Oneida County Family Court on March 3, 2018.

On that day, I made it clear that Gerry had better not threaten me with violence and most assuredly, he had better stay put on his bench. For the reasons that follow, I knew this was beyond question a contempt by ambush and an unlawful act of attempted imprisonment which a citizen has a right to defend against in such an extraordinary case. Think of it as a Rambo One movie with the corrupt cops replaced by corrupt judges.

In my reports I compared the judicial gang assault inflicted upon me for so many years to a Rodney King beating with the fists and batons replaced by orders and edicts. If Gerry decided to confront me physically and unlawfully under the protection of our court security, it raised the real question of who they should taser. Who was the real criminal here with this focus on domestic violence in these (family) courts? What would Sylvestier Stallone  do if he was real in this environment?

While depicting my discrimination and First Amendment motion papers as “rants” without so much as a first court meeting or argument, Rocky Popeo joined his predecessors in denying me parent-child contact since my 2013 testimony before the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. He did so without any finding of unfit parenting, criminal charge or child protection report. Meanwhile “rehabilitated” heroin addict moms and life term prisoners were being reunited or allowed contact with their children.

Not mentioned was Popeo’s conversation at a golf and country club during one of my client cases or the unsolicited “rant” he gave me in the presence of a key witness last summer at a local bar. He accused me of some involvement in that censure prosecution. I had no such involvement, no obligation to answer his “rant” anyway, but he was obviously moved by my history of litigation success on behalf of African-American victims in his court, federal court and Utica city government.

That history included former “black” Public Works Commissioner Stephen Patterson and his pastor father who I represented and recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of law enforcement targeting and wrongful discharge, i.e. Patterson v City of Utica, 370 F.3d 322 (2nd Cir. 2004). Judge Popeo was obviously making a connection between my civil rights advocacy to the racial slurs which nearly caused him his judgeship.

In another case, Mr. Patterson, who had never seen a jail cell, was imprisoned by Judge Balboa in 2010 for non-appearance on a series of nuisance and city ordinance violations. I was not able to represent him then due to the ethics witch hunt already in place, so Steve got front page news after attempting suicide upon discovering that a belt had been placed in his cell while dazed and asleep.

Ultimately he was found “not guilty” on all charges by a jury, and I won yet another ruling for him in a federal civil rights case later that year for police and city harassment. As hard as it may be to believe, I won it while suspended because the papers were prepared by me beforehand and no qualified substitute lawyer could be found.

Rocky Popeo persisted in his beliefs that I had somehow influenced his public censure. He even inquired whether I had filed a complaint against him regarding his eviction ruling upon my former law office the same year as that censure. The current judge assignment should never been offered or accepted on grounds of revenge and prejudice alone. Such persecution has now required resort to natural laws for my protection. I am no Rambo, but I finish the fights that others start without provocation or genuine lawful authority.

You will find background news articles on this post and others together with professional services we offer on this site, Leon Please contribute to our cause for the sake of parents, children and court victims everywhere. My book, Satan’s Docket, continues to be purchased and commended, a useful tool for self-representation as well. And share this post with those who need to know what is truly occurring in our courts. I can be contacted at our office at (315) 380-3420 or personally at (315) 796-4000.