"It's no different from what a private employer does with personnel actions, only we have to be more sensitive because we're dealing with judges," Arbuckle said, adding:
"Don't forget: we're involved in forced retirements as well as disciplinary matters."
Malone, who has instituted a strict dress code in his courtroom and dismissed cases when the courtroom gets noisy, is said to have collapsed on the bench and in chambers several times in the past due to health problems.
"I can't comment on any specific case, but it is true that Judge Malone has been temporarily removed from judicial duties," Arbuckle said last night. ''At this point, he hasn't been accused of anything."
Arbuckle said Malone would remain on suspension while the JIRB reviews his case. He said the JIRB was expected by early March to recommend formal action against Malone.
Arbuckle said the reasons for Malone's suspension would be publicized then.
He explained that the board recommends disciplinary action against a judge ''when continued service of a judge is causing immediate and substantial public harm and an erosion of public confidence to the orderly administration of justice."
Such disciplinary action, he said, involves "all matters relating to judicial discipline or forced retirement."
Malone, who was re-elected in November to another six-year term, has been on the bench for 18 years.
Traffic Court President Judge George Twardy declined to comment on Malone's suspension. However, he acknowledged that Malone has been in ill health.
"He's (Malone) been carried off by the emergency squad three or four times in the last year and a half," Twardy said. "He's collapsed on the bench a couple of times and in his office."
Twardy said Malone came to work earlier this week supported by a cane. Under the suspension, Malone is permitted to tend to all judicial duties except deciding cases.
Malone has a reputation as one of the more colorful traffic court judges. He insists on a strict courtroom dress code and has refused to hear arguments
from people wearing shorts in the summer.
Malone also has publicly embarrassed defendants by yelling or cursing at them in the courtroom.
In February 1986, Malone dismissed six outstanding tickets totaling more than $300 against a court employee who had been fired by a chief clerk appointed by the state Supreme Court as part of a reform effort. The employee, Frank DiCicco, was instead fined $30 in parking violations by Malone.
Malone could not be reached for comment today.