Paul Czajka was actually a Columbia — not an Albany — County Court judge. He was apparently assigned to this case because one of the two sitting Albany County Court judges had recently retired, and there was a large backload of cases. In the Nickel case, Judge Czajka took on the role of a prosecutor. How? By seeking to redirect the prosecution's theory and proof of the case relative to a central piece of evidence: a sexual photograph allegedly depicting Nickel and a boy. As was the case in the indictment itself, at trial the prosecutor had indicated numerous times that this photo was evidence not only of a pornography-related charge, but also of the top charge alleging oral sex. But after a mysterious "sidebar" involving only Czajka and the prosecutor — Nickel's lawyer was, inexplicably, excluded from this — the prosecutor did an about-face on this crucial issue.
"A number of judges [in child sexual abuse trials] have been hostile to the defense and have consistently ruled so as to hamper the defense and facilitate the prosecution. In some instances facts introduced into evidence have been ignored, and findings declared as if the testimony had never been presented."
— from Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, 1988, pg. 134.
Judge Czajka's questionable conduct on the bench is by no means limited to the Nickel case alone. Presented below are highlights of several of the other cases over which he presided.