Here Come the Judges
November 6th, 2011
Occupants for 29 seats on the bench in New York City will be selected Tuesday — at least theoretically. In many cases, though, the primary process and political insiders have filled the posts already — leaving voters with nothing more than the opportunity to ratify the choice.
All candidates for Manhattan judgeships — including places of the state Supreme Court and Civil Court — face no opposition. All have the Democratic Party line; a few also have the GOP nod. In no case, though, have the Republicans — or any other party for that matter — put forth candidate who is not the Democratic standard bearer. In the one judicial race on Staten Island the sole candidate — Acting Judge Joseph J. Maltese — has support from the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.
The contested elections come in Brooklyn and Queens. There are no judicial races — contested or otherwise — in the Bronx.
More on the individual judicial races after the jump.
In Queens, 12 candidates are competing for six available state Supreme Court seats. Six of the candidates are Democrats — Supreme Court Justice Janice Taylor, Supreme Court Justice Allan Weiss, Civil Court Judge Rudolph Greco, Acting Supreme Court Justice Timothy Dufficy, Acting Supreme Court Justice and Civil Court Judge Pam Jackman-Brown and Criminal Court Judge Ira Margulis. Facing them are six candidates with Republican and Conservative backing: Administrative Law Judge Robert Beltrani, criminal defense attorney Gabriel Tapalaga, Ozone Park attorney Joseph Kasper, Astoria attorney Kate Christoforatos, Elmhurst attorney Milton Florez and administrative law judge John Casey.
All the Democratic candidates have been rated as approved by the city bar association. Among the Republicans, though, Christoforatos was the only candidate listed as approved; the others were ranked unapproved, (The bar does not provide any back-up for or explanation of its determinations.)
The Democrats have an edge in the contests, the Queens Gazette believes, largely because of their advantage in party registration in the borough. In addition, the paper said, “All six Democrats have won previous elections, five of them for Civil Court judgeships and the sixth for a Housing Court judgeís position, which boosts their favorite status.”
Democrats currently hold all the Supreme Court seats in Queens, Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long has said.
Fundraising tends to be light for these contests. Most of the candidates had not filed with the state elections boa4rd, meaning they have raised less than $1,000 for their races this year.
One exception was Christoforatos who, in her 11-day pre-general election filing, reported contributions of $28,520 and $13,740.73 on hand. In addition, Tapalaga reported $11,525 in donations and $10,7095.67 on hand.
On the surface at least, the Brooklyn election seems less open. Six of the candidates — Associate Appellate Division Judge David Freidman; Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel; Supreme Court Justice Betsy Barros; Carl Landicino, a lawyer for the Brooklyn Democratic Party who reportedly has spent much of his court time trying to knock challengers to the party establishment off the ballot; Acting Supreme Court Justice Rachel Adams and Acting Supreme Court Justice and Civil Court Judge Johnny Baynes — have the Democratic and Republican endorsements. All but two of them — Adams and Knipel — also have the Conservative Party’s backing.
Two candidates with just the Conservative Party lines — attorney Paul Atanasio and Renata Landskind — are running, presumably against them. Given the Conservative Party’s modest membership in Brooklyn — and the fact that Atanasio and Landskind are the only Brooklyn Supreme Court candidates without bar association approval — makes the odd against them seem pretty daunting . And Atanasio cannot be helped by his alleged role in the patronage hiring of a project leader on a school construction project. A falling brick from the site killed a 17-year-old girl in 1998, a death a city investigation later blamed on incompetent contractors, halfway safety measures and laissez-faire supervision.”
Here, too fundraising seems light. Many candidates reported no activity. Knipel reported having about $3,700 in campaign funds on hand. While Adam’s 11-day pre-general election filing found her $466.18 in the red.
The contest for Civil Court in Brooklyn looks more competitive. Two Democrats — Sharen Hudson, a court attorney at the Red Hook Community Justice Center who has the support of the party organization, and Supervising Civil Court Judge Peter Sweeney — are running against two Republican/Conservatives — attorney Joseph Elhilow and lawyer Vincent Martusciello — for two seats. Only Hudson reported campaign finance activity with a negative balance late last month of $672.36.
All of them are approved by the bar association except for Martusciello.By Gail Robinson on November 6, 2011, 9:54 pm
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