Sunday, November 4, 2018

Housing TPT program is also an issue in the Bronx and Queens.

put a moratorium on and investigate the 66 properties that were bundled together and taken through in rem foreclosure proceedings and judgment in December 2017.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), through its Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, filed a request for the foreclosure judgement on Nov. 27, 2017, and State Supreme Court Judge Mark Partnow signed a judgement of foreclosure on Dec. 5, 2017.

KCP has found four property owners that produced compelling evidence of improprieties in the seizures of property. All say they received no notification of a court proceeding, and only learned of it after notices of new ownership was sent to tenants in the building. Further all four property owners were either black or brown, owned their properties free and clear with no mortgages and lived in increasingly gentrifying neighborhoods where property values are now worth in the millions of dollars.

The letter also went out to the Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts New York State Unified Court System, and to the Hon. Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge New York State Court of Appeals

The letter goes on to question the city’s current TPT initiative to fulfill a purpose other than that which was intended by New York City Local Law No. 37, as adopted in 1996, and by the authority given by the state to the city to engage in in rem foreclosure proceedings in the prior decade. 

The letter notes that most of the properties taken were in rapidly gentrifying, black and brown communities such as Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Bushwick and East New York where displacement of working families and seniors from these communities is at an all-time high

A single misstep in a program such as this is one too many when it can result in one of our constituents losing their home, and the families’ equity and investment in such properties, unjustly or unfairly,” wrote the lawmakers.

However, the State Court System denies any wrongdoing and believes that the City has to be charged with the responsibility of preserving homeownership across the five boroughs. 

“We have nothing to do with New York City’s Third Party Transfer program – you would have to speak with the City. In regards to the in rem foreclosure process, we are solely the venue, the statutes were promulgated by the state legislature and the process [is] the same in every county,” said Lucien Chalfen, the Public Information Officer for the Office of Court Administration.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Many New Yorkers Do Not Understand How the Judges Get Their Jobs. True News Investigates and Uncovers the Special Interests Who Get Judges Their Jobs


 This woman Swern is Now a Judge

Another ex-DA staffer admits to doing campaign work while on the clock (NY Post)

Another aide to former Brooklyn DA Charles J. Hynes has admitted doing campaign work for the DA on government time in 2013 in a settlement with the city’s ethics board where the timing was everything.
Anne Swern, a former first assistant DA under Hynes, agreed to pay a $2,000 fine to the Conflicts of Interest Board in a deal announced Tuesday.
A month earlier, Swern ran unopposed for a party-controlled seat on the Civil Court in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn DA candidate once sued the city she wants to defend

Torres, Swern Appointed As New District Leaders

Judge, a former Hynes ADA, admits to misusing city resources

Brooklyn judge fined $2,000 for misusing city resources while working for Brooklyn DA...

Democratic Moves on Brooklyn’s Judicial Ballot Getting Scrutiny

Three Unopposed Civil Court Candidates Emerge From Lively Brooklyn Dems Meeting

From a fraught meeting of Brooklyn Democrats on Thursday night that stretched over six hours and offered a forum for feisty progressive-leaning voters to rage against the party machine, three candidates for Civil Court have emerged to run unopposed in the November election.
The Civil Court nominees are Rupert Barry, a defense attorney who has worked as a federal and state prosecutor and who made unsuccessful run last year for Civil Court; Jill Epstein, a state Supreme Court law clerk who also made a failed run for the bench in 2016; and Anne Swern, a former longtime Brooklyn prosecutor who came in second last year in a six-way race for Brooklyn district attorney.
The judicial nominees were picked through a time-honored, complex and repeatedly lambasted system for putting judges on the ballot in New York City that critics allege is controlled by party bosses and leaves little choice to the voters.
But this time, the powers that be in the Brooklyn Democratic Party machine, which is run by Frank Seddio, a former Surrogate’s Court judge, are faced with the prospect of an energized left that has proven to be a potent political force at the polls.
In September primary elections, for example, progressive upstart Julia Salazar, 27, who faced harsh criticism in the weeks leading up to the vote over the presentation of her personal history, trounced party stalwart Martin Dilan, 68, for a New York State Senate seat that covers north Brooklyn with 59 percent of votes.   
At the party meeting on Thursday night, Brooklyn progressive groups focused their energy during the meeting on picking up seats in party leadership positions rather than fighting for seats on the bench, said Jessica Thurston, a spokeswoman for the New Kings Democrats, and they were successful at picking up some seats on the county committee.
“The writing is on the wall for them,” Thurston said of the establishment party leaders. “We want this to be a democratic process. It’s still not there.”
But party leader Seddio and other establishment figures didn’t get everything they wanted: Seddio supported David Pepper, a state Supreme Court law clerk who ran unsuccessfully last year for a Civil Court seat, to take the seat that went to Barry, said Bob Liff, a party spokesman.

  1. Newly elected Brooklyn civil court judge subject of killer's ...
    A newly-minted Brooklyn civil court judge is named in court papers in the ongoing fight to free gridiron killer suspect John Giuca

    1. Democratic Moves on Brooklyn’s Judicial Ballot Getting ...
      Swern herself was directly involved in one of the most controversial cases of the Hynes era, that of John Giuca. While at Rikers in 2005 awaiting trial for the murder of Fairfield University football star Mark Fisher, Giuca allegedly confessed to fellow detainee John Avitto, who had a drug problem.
    2. What John Giuca's prosecutor is guilty of - NY Daily News
      The prosecutor (Jesse Ward/for New York Daily News) John Giuca's been locked up for murder for 13 years. I've been writing for the last four years about what's wrong with that.

In Judicial Races, Little Choice for Voters (WNYC)

Democrats Playing Games with Brooklyn Judicial Ballot (Jewish Voice)

When the Brooklyn Democratic party’s county committee holds its biennial meetings, the proceedings are usually mere formalities. This year seems to be different though as questions are being raised around the party heading into the meeting at the end of the week.
The questions arise out of a controversy coming after a fake letter went out from Assemblyman Bobby Carroll that was received by most of the committee members. The letter tried to influence them to take actions that would help party boss Frank Seddio receive more votes, City Limits reports.
Seddio is known for funny business when it comes to judicial ballots, and all eyes will be on those votes on Thursday, especially after the fake letter about giving away votes to Seddio.
The Democratic party’s judicial convention was able to put three civil court judges to the Kings County Supreme Court because those judges won their primaries earlier this month. It looks like Seddio and his pals will be able to pick three judges based on the circumstances which practically give them that power. There could be surprise challengers at the committee meeting this Thursday, but otherwise, the decision to name those three civil court judges to the court made three ballot spots available for civil court candidates in the upcoming general election.
City Limits explains the significance of this apparent power play and what it means moving forward, saying that “such slippery ballot line maneuvering means that those judges won’t face primary challengers who might raise questions about their track records. Yet the likely nominees merit scrutiny.”


Judge, a former Hynes ADA, admits to misusing city resources ...

A newly elected Brooklyn judge agreed to pay a $2,000 fine after she admitted that while working as an assistant district attorney for former District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, she used her official email account and computer to work on Hynes’ 2013 re-election bid.
Anne Swern, who was elected to the Kings County Civil Court last month, will pay the $2,000 to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, according to the Daily News.
In total, Swern sent five emails that violated city law.
“These prohibited emails related to campaign fundraising and contributions; her thoughts regarding a campaign mailer; and on two occasions, her assistance with campaign debate preparation,” COIB said in a statement.
Swern is the 11th former Hynes staffer who has confessed to breaking the law during Hynes’ unsuccessful re-election campaign, the News said.

Torres, Swern Appointed As New District Leaders

Brooklyn DA candidate once sued the city she wants to defend (NY Post)

Swern, a former high-ranking assistant district attorney under Charles Hynes, last year demanded $5 million from the city in a slip-and-fall case.
And years earlier she sued her own friend for $500,000 for the loss of her husband’s “services” when he hurt his back after a rough boat ride in the Hamptons.
“I would give her nothing. Zero,” said Gerald Shapiro, the boat owner sued by Swern and her husband in 1998.


Lawsuit by Ex-Brooklyn Judge Passed Over for Re-election Endorsement Is Tossed

A former Brooklyn judge who wasn’t nominated for re-election in 2016 and who sued party leaders when negative assessments about her time on the bench were leaked to the press has been dealt a defeat in her legal battle as a federal judge has found she is not entitled to a “fair shot” to get on the ballot.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall of the Eastern District of New York to dismiss former state Supreme Court Justice Laura Jacobson’s suit against Brooklyn Democratic Party leaders and the party’s judicial screening committee comes just days after the party came together to pick three Civil Court candidates to appear on the November ballot through a legal yet opaque process that has repeatedly drawn criticism from voters, good government groups and editorial boards.
In the months before the 2016 primary election, the party’s judicial screening committee, which rarely recommends against keeping a sitting judge on the bench, found that Jacobson, who was elected to the Supreme Court in 2002, was not qualified for re-election.
The screening committee is made up of 25 lawyers from various bar groups, legal service providers and the academy who assess judicial candidates before the party’s convention for picking candidates to appear on the general election ballot. 
ccording to court papers, the committee advised Jacobson that she could withdraw her candidacy, which would prevent the screening committee’s findings from getting reported to the party’s executive committee.
Following an unsuccessful appeal of the screening committee’s findings, Jacobson withdrew her candidacy.
But in July 2016, the New York Post ran stories on the screening committee’s determination on Jacobson and quoting anonymous sources who said Jacobson was “not the brightest bulb in the courthouse” and that the judge was “so disliked and considered so judicially mediocre that the committee found her unqualified, and then rejected her appeal.”
Jacobson sued party leaders and screening committee members alleging libel and that the defendants violated internal rules for picking candidates for the ballot, which in turn violated her equal protection rights.
In her suit, Jacobson denied the Post’s report that her rulings had been flipped on appeal 57 times over a decade time frame, arguing that an “infinitesimal” number of the 4,000 orders she has issued since 2006 have been reversed by a higher court.
Further, Jacobson alleged, some of her actions on the bench got her into hot water with Democratic Party leadership.
For one, Jacobson said in her complaint that she reduced the amount of counsel fees paid to Steven Finkelstein, who is both a member of the screening committee and counsel to the Brooklyn Public Administrator, who Jacobson said was charging excessive fees.
Jacobson alleges that she again ran afoul of party bosses in 2014, when she granted a temporary restraining order to block the State University of New York from selling Long Island College Hospital over the objections of Frank Carone, a partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara & Wolf who represented SUNY and who serves as counsel to the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s executive committee.
Carone told the Law Journal in 2016 that the claims contained in Jacobson’s complaint amounted to nothing more than “innuendo” and a “smear campaign.”
But two years after Jacobson filed the suit, Hall granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, rejecting Jacobson’s argument that the party was acting under color of state law. She also said that Jacobson is arguing that she has been deprived of a “fair shot” to get on the ballot, for which Hall said there is no constitutional guarantee. 
“We appreciate the court’s well-reasoned memorandum and order that the Kings County Democratic Party properly followed its rules that it can only endorse judicial candidates found qualified by the independent screening panel,” Carone said Thursday regarding Hall’s ruling.
Ravi Batra, Jacobson’s lawyer, said he and his client are reviewing Hall’s decision to determine if they will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 
Batra said his client has brought legitimate constitutional claims and that he disagrees with Hall’s finding that Brooklyn Democratic leaders are not state actors.
“The defendants, given their essential role in election of Supreme Court justices by convening and presiding over Supreme Court judicial nominating conventions, perform public electoral functions and hence, unquestionably play an integral part in the state scheme,” Batra said.

Kings of corruption: In Brooklyn, party bosses drown democracy (NYDN)

Thursday night at Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio is up to his old tricks.  First, to wield as much power as possible over the 2,000-member county committee, he’s sought proxies by dubious means, sending out misleading letters signed by people who never gave permission.  Second, he’s sliding judges into open ballot slots, making further mockery of the small-d democratic process.  The shenanigans began last week when he moved three Civil Court judges who had just won primaries to state Supreme Court. Now, insiders will pick their replacements. One seat is slated for Jill Epstein, who lost a Civil Court primary in 2016, having been censured by the courts in New Jersey and New York for violating money-handling rules. Another will go to Anne Swern, who was trounced in the district attorney’s primary last year. The third seat will be filled by Seddio’s fellow district leaders; contenders are Elaine Schack-Rodriguez (daughter of district leader Dilia Schack), Rupert Barry, who lost Civil Court races in 2017 and 2014, and David Pepper, who also lost last year.  Anti-Seddio reformers are hoping to have the numbers to block the badness. Good luck to them. If they manage to keep the ballot lines empty, the mayor can make merit selections and open primaries can be held next year.

Democrats Turned Up in Record Numbers. But One Man Held All the Power (NYT)

Lew Fidler: "names of those who voted their proxies in the same way as did (BK Dem Boss) Frank Seddio: Bova, @Bobby4Brooklyn, Davila, Diaz, Feldman, Kelly, Millman, Pierre, @JoAnneSimonBK52, @joshskaller & Fidler."

Much Ado, Nothing Changes – Kings County Democratic Committee put on a show last night (Bklyner)

Here are some more of those practices that sparked the mayhem in Thursday’s meeting:
  • While committee members made motions from the floor, floor microphones weren’t provided at the meeting.
  • The meeting chair — on more than one occasion — announced an inconsistent vote count.
  • Judicial nominations held behind a curtain while several hundred people waited in an auditorium for the results.
  • No candidates for the executive committee were allowed to address the audience.

Manipulative Mailer Angers Reformers Ahead of Brooklyn Democratic Meeting (Gottham)

“It is entirely unacceptable to sign my name to a letter, and purport it to be from me, and send it to my county committee members asking for them to give a proxy [vote] to Frank Seddio,” said Doug Schneider, a newly elected district leader in the 44th Assembly District. “It is everything I ran against, and even if it wasn't it's still inappropriate. And I'm angry.”

Democratic Moves on Brooklyn’s Judicial Ballot Getting Scrutiny(CityLimits)

The bench press: The terrible process by which New York's judges are chosen (NYDN)

It’s an awful, ugly process, but anyone who cares about our city cannot turn away. In each of the boroughs Thursday evening, five political sausage factories known as judicial nominating conventions will grind out 18 new state Supreme Court judgeships.  Those placed on the ballot by Democratic Party bosses will get 14-year terms on New York’s highest-level trial bench, annual salary $208,000.  That’s not if they win. They will win. There’s no question, because there’s no competition on the ballot.  And while Thursday night’s meetings won’t take place in back rooms because the sessions are open to the public by law, and by law won’t be smoked-filled, ol’ Boss Tweed would feel right at home. Tweed’s successors and their backers will be filling open seats (three each in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, five in the Bronx and one on Staten Island). On top of that, Albany created new ones, one each for Queens, Bronx and Staten Island.  Rubber-stamp elections with “candidates” picked by party bosses is how we get a lot of lousy judges. This year, rumor had it that Sens. Jeff Klein (Bronx) and Jesse Hamilton (Brooklyn), who lost their primaries last week, might be sliding into soft landings on the bench; now, the party bosses say that’s not going to happen.  But shenanigans do abound. In Brooklyn, all three Supreme Court seats will be given to Civil Court judges who won their primaries last week (Ingrid Joseph, Devin Cohen and Lisa Ottley). That will free up their lines on the November ballot for three new, just-tapped people, who will win Civil Court judgeships (a 10-year gig paying $193,500) without having a pesky primary.The Bronx will do this backfilling for one vacancy and still could hand a judgeship to Councilman Andy Cohen, who would get a raise on his $148,500 local legislator’s salary — and free up a Council seat for the son of Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz.  The sausage is gross, and it isn’t healthy. But at least it’s fresh.

Surrogate justice: The machine beats the voters in Brooklyn (NYDN)

Surrogate judges oversee the estates of the dead and can offer rich rewards to connected lawyers. So when one of the 14-year judgeships is vacant, competition is fierce.  So fierce that the Brooklyn Democratic machine lost the last two surrogate primaries to insurgents. Not this year. Boss Frank Seddio — a disgraced ex-Surrogate himself — is seizing the valuable post without a challenge to his candidate, Harriet Thompson. A Civil Court judge, Thompson has already violated court rules by failing to complete the mandatory judicial campaign ethics training. Fellow incumbent Civil Court judges Loren Baily, Ingrid Joseph and Devin Cohen, all running for reelection, also failed to comply.
No matter. At next week's judicial nominating convention, Seddio's machine plans to tap them for state Supreme Court and then fill their Civil Court places on the November ballot with loyal substitutes, with no voter input.  So both democracy and justice will lose again in Brooklyn.
Disgraced Brooklyn Party Boss Regains Influence (Independent)


Just As Boss Seddio is Trying to Confuse  County Committee Members With Proxy Mailing, He Will Also Use the Meeting Elect Two of Hack Judges With An Election Law Loop-Hole

Fake Seddio Proxy Request Letter to County Committee Members

Because of a loop-hole in the election law the upcoming county committee meeting will also elect two civil court judges.  If county committee members and the media do not pay attention this meeting will also do two back fills of judges that Brooklyn Boss Seddio wants. You know that back fills are loop-hole in a very corrupt election law that allows party bosses to cut out the voters in chooses judges. Most reporters and delegates are not aware that there are serious problems with each of the candidates the county is supporting for the 1st and 4th district. Stories will come out soon. 

Brooklyn Democratic Party Boss Under Fire for Misleading Letters as Proxy Battle Heats Up (Daily News)

Members  of the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee received phone calls, door-knockers and mailing this week urging them to turn over their votes to party boss Frank Seddio - including letters bearing the names of elected officials and district leaders who say they didn't sign them. The mailing comes less than a week before the county committee is set to meet on Thursday and vote on its new officers - with the reformers putting up a slate against Seddio's Slate.

Crowley The Cash Cow(Queens Politics)

Check out the history of the very corrupt lobbyists the Advance Group, the consultant that is working for the Brooklyn Bosses, sending out the letters to you county committee members

A Judge Who Tried to Keep LICH Open and to Stop And Keep People From the Homes Being Foreclosed  Was Removed By Brooklyn Boss Seddio

Judge Jacobson lawsuit alleges that the screening board has been stacked by Frank Seddio, the chairman of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, even though it is meant to be independent. (Daily News).
Jacobson attorney Ravi Batra says the real story, as detailed in the lawsuit, is that Jacobson issued rulings against lawyers with ties to the Brooklyn Democratic machine, including some on the judicial screening committee."As 'payback' for Judge Jacobson’s refusal to judicially act bending and bowing to the Brooklyn political machine," the suit reads, party leaders "broke their own rules and procedures and violated the confidentiality of the judicial screening process with the vindictive and malicious intent of harming Judge Jacobson personally and professionally."   Jacobson’s lawsuit, meanwhile, demands that the screening committee be disbanded and is seeking at least five million dollars in damages. Jacobson is being punished for not using her professional position to help party bigwigs, the lawyer said.She delayed the contentious sale of Long Island College Hospital in 2014 by issuing a temporary restraining order on the State University of New York, which ram the institution. Seddio’s friend and former law partner Frank Carrone represented the state in that case and was none too happy about Jacobson’s ruling, the suit claims. “She did not show favoritism, she followed the law, she wasn’t a political puppet — that’s her crime,” Batra said.

Political Bosses Elect Judges to Fix Cases, Line their Pockets and Fund their Political Machines


The selection of judges may be one of the few areas of local politics where backroom deals are still the norm, and where the county political leaders exercise the greatest control.  As the NYT wrote in 2011, it is the courts that sustain the county organizations in our time.  Party bosses use the courts to fund their machines and line their pockets.  However, while the NY Times wrote about the New Kings Democrats Challenging the Party Establishment (NYT) by running candidates for the county committee, the paper never mentioned about the first real challenge in 20 years to Brooklyn Boss Seddio's control of electing judges in 2017.  The NYT also never questioned why today's progressives have never challenged a machine picked candidate for judge. 

 Ironically, many of the progressives who attack Seddio for control of the county committee, have never attacked Seddio's law partner Frank Carone, who is the counsel to the County Chair of the Kings County Democratic County Committee.  Although the progressives were aware that Seddio used the Brooklyn County Committee to illegally fund raise for the benefit of his judicial candidate picks since it was published by the Daily News and that Carone's law firm--Abrams and Fensterman, LLP-- contributed over $10,000 to the country committee PAC to support judge candidates run by the Brooklyn political machine, the two leading progressive clubs in Brooklyn backed county picked judges in the several most recent elections.  These two clubs in Brooklyn, that refer to themselves as progressive and whose names include the word "Independent," namely, the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats ("CBID") and the Independent Neighborhood Democrats ("IND") were formed in the anti-Vietnam protests era, to oppose the Brooklyn Democratic machine. Sadly, although IND and CBID used to be the backbone of opposition to the Brooklyn Democratic machine, it appears they have surrendered their control to the Brooklyn Bosses as Seddio even appointed IND's and CBID's District Leaders--Ann Swern and Josh Skaller, respectively.

How the Machine Picks the Judges for the Supreme Court (the Trial Court)
     There is nothing democratic about New York’s method of electing judges to its major trial court — confusingly referred to as the Supreme Court.
      Since 1921, New York’s election law has required parties to select their nominees by a convention composed of delegates elected by party members.   An individual running for delegate must submit a 500-signature petition collected within a specified time. The convention’s nominees appear automatically on the general-election ballot.
     In Brooklyn, the District Leaders fill the judicial delegate slots with their friends and family, the seats are unopposed and few even know about them, since delegate positions do not appear on the ballot.  A few days before a judicial convention, there is a closed door meeting of the district leaders, where they select the judge candidates for the Supreme Court seats.  The county committee members read the script their District Leaders gave them determining which judicial candidates will appear as the party’s nominees on the general election ballot.  These Judge candidates are generally unopposed in the general November election.  Since most delegates who pick Supreme Court Judges are handpicked by their county’s party officials and do not even appear on the ballot because they almost always run unopposed, this means that voters have no chance to pick who represents them at the conventions.

Tammany Hall Era Judicial Nominating Conventions are Scripted Strictly for Show
The party leaders decide on their preferred judicial candidates in advance and direct the delegates accordingly; other candidates have no realistic shot at nomination. The delegates — usually party loyalists, their family members, or members of their campaign staffs — receive no information about the judicial candidates in advance of the convention, and are often given no time to debate each candidate’s qualifications, according to a New York Times investigation. In more than 96 percent of nominations, no alternate candidates are put forward by the delegates and “conventions” last as little as 20 minutes. Even party leaders have conceded that the conventions are largely fiction (decided in smoke filled rooms). “These delegates really don’t have any function,” said one assemblyman, acknowledging that his wife, a delegate, knew “zero” about the judicial candidates. “There is a fairly justified perception that things are sort of decided before the delegates go in.” Legislators in Albany should replace the state's exclusionary judicial selection system in which judges are “made” with one that actually reflects our democratic values.

Who Really Picks New York’s Judges? Brennan Center  “Party conventions with their attendant 'smoke-filled rooms' and domination by party leaders have long been an accepted manner of selecting party candidates,” Supreme Court Justice Scalia said. The status quo may be accepted, Sample said, but it’s deeply flawed. “The system of smoke-filled rooms is producing candidates and ultimately judges who owe extraordinary debts of gratitude to very specific individuals,” he said.  There’s rarely an express quid pro quo, he said, but “if the answer is just, well, that’s just politics – that’s an extraordinary power.”  The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws or unfair election laws.” U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Judicial Conventions

U.S. Judge John Gleeson Rules Judicial Conventions Unconstitutional 
The U.S. Supreme Court Ruled NY's Judicial Conventions are Flawed but Constitutional
"The highly unusual processes (judicial convention - the lone state in the nation to elect judges this way) by which that extremely important office (Supreme Court Judge) is filled perpetuate local political party leaders control and deprive the voters of any meaningful role," the judge wrote in the decision. "The result is an opaque, and undemocratic selection procedure that violates the rights of the voters and the rights of candidates who lack the backing of local party leaders." Room Eight Protests Judicial Corruption in Brooklyn New York, and How No One is Doing Anything About It* What is the Lopez Torres case about - Brennan Center for Justice

Political Machine Bosses Elect Judges

Judicial Conventions N Korea Puppet Show
An Inside look at what goes on during a Judicial Convention that elected NYS Supreme Court Judges 

From the Daily News "I attended the Kings County Democratic judicial nominating convention Tuesday.  It was orchestrated "Soviet-style." Short, sweet, lady- and gentleman-like, the script called for the eight candidates to be designated or re-designated without opposition, even for supposed "open" seats. Before adjournment, each judge candidate got up and gave a short thank-you speech. Every one of them expressed gratitude to the party district leaders for their support, and they also expressed effusive thanks to and praise of County Leader Vito Lopez. One 're-up,' John Leventhal of the Appellate Division, Second Department (after inquiring if the press was present) thanked now-imprisoned county leader Clarence Norman as well, and another called Lopez "the greatest county leader ever." After adjournment, I spoke with a number of delegates who voted "automatically" and didn't seem to know for whom they were voting. They didn't know, and were just told for whom to vote." - Daily News 2008

"In Queens, Political Center of the Machine Is in Surrogate's Court" - NY Times  (2011)
 Power and money are found not so much in the voting booth as in the machine-controlled judicial conventions that pick judges, and in the courthouse on Sutphin Boulevard.  That is where you find Surrogate’s Court, otherwise known as widows and orphans court. This court appoints guardians who make handsome fees processing the estates of those Queens residents who die without wills.  To enter this court is to stumble upon Ponce de Leon’s own spring, an eternal source of easy money for the politically wired. The Surrogate’s judge appointed the public administrator, Lois M. Rosenblatt, who is a fierce and battle-tested elections lawyer, Democratic division.  Ms. Rosenblatt reappointed the court’s counsel, who for about a millennium has been Gerard J. Sweeney. In 2010, Mr. Sweeney’s office pulled down $2.284 million administering estates. This year has been slower; through the end of October, his take was $993,764. “Surrogate’s Court is the play,” notes a well-connected Queens Democrat who remains that way by talking anonymously. “You can’t talk about what makes the machine tick without talking about surrogates.”  Mr. Sweeney’s law firm on Queens Boulevard is a beehive of Queens Democratic worthies; Michael Reich and Frank A. Bolz III are partners and top party officers.


Below the law as Bronx pols Rob Johnson and Darcel Clarke break the rules (Daily News) * NYC’s Dumbest Elections: Races for DA in a Year When No One is Looking (City Limits) * Family of Queens Democratic Boss Snatches Up Supreme Court Appointments * Fire Boss Crowley - Queens Against Crowley * Dem boss calls primary 'waste' • Brooklyn Daily Queens  A Court, Not Votes, Sustains a Political Machine in Queens (NYT, 11/28/11) *Were Have All the Journalist Gone After Newfield (True News, 7/14/11))
Brooklyn City bookkeeper in 600G ‘scam’(NYP) A bookkeeper stole more than $600,000 in taxpayer money by creating a phony check from the Brooklyn municipal office that handles the estates of people who die without wills or next of kin, court papers allege.
Bronx  Bronx Surrogate Judge, Facing Discipline (NYT)  Judge Holzman, the Bronx surrogate since 1988, is in the midst of a disciplinary hearing in which he is charged with allowing his staff to run amok and to take fees that were excessive and unearned from estates that it was handling. Judge Holzman could lose his job as a result of the hearing.

Brooklyn Boss Seddio sometimes law partner Frank Carone was hired by the SUNY to close LICH Hospital 6 months after the state's university system bought the hospital from Stanley Brezenoff's Continuum Health Partners. As part of the deal SUNY absorb $300 million in LICH red in.  Brezenoff is a quintessential member of what muckraker Jack Newfield called The Permanent Government of New York. This professional politico was appointed by de Blasio to take of NYCHA.  Here comes the fire sale of public housing.  The defense lawyer for SUNY Downstate in Judge Jacobson Court turned out to be Frank Carone, Counsel to the County Chair of the Kings County Democratic County Committee. Former hospital will be turned into luxury high-rise (NYP). Carone lawfirm  Abrams Fensterman hosted 2017 illegal fundraiser for judges.  

For almost a decade, Frank Carone has been counsel to the Chairman of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, where he regularly represents many members of the party and elected officials. Carone is a lawyer for lobbyists and also serves as an Officer at the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn.  Carone is a founder of multi-state mortgage bank with over 200 employees.  Carone was appointed to the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission and he was also appointed a Chair to the newly formed New York State Bar Association Committee on Transportation Law.  Carone sits on the Board of Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and he chairs their audit committee.  RBSCC was founded and run by the late Democratic County Boss Vito Lopez and serves 30,000 constituents with a budget of almost $100,000,000.  Carone is on the founding advisory Board of the New York League of Independent Bankers (

Judge Jacobson Ruled to Keep LICH Hospital Open When Seddio's Law Partner Was Trying to Close the Hospital
Nurses’ court order throws wrench into NYU’s LICH plans in Brooklyn (Daily Eagle, 2014)  SUNY attorney Frank Carone told Justice Jacobson that SUNY “tried to meet with NYU yesterday, but were unsuccessful.” He assured the judge that SUNY was “committed to the content and objectives of the RFP,” and supports the “full employment of the nurses.” “I’m sure the nurses in the courtroom are very happy to hear that,” Justice Jacobson said.

When Judge Laura Jacobson Was Up for Reelection Seddio Used the Judicial Screening Panel He Controls to Block Judge Jacobson by Rating Her Unqualified
City judge deemed incompetent in ‘unheard of’ move (NYP)  In a first-of-its-kind rebuke, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge with 25 years experience on the bench has been found unqualified by a Democratic Party screening panel — a move that will likely doom her chances for re-election this fall. - July 16, 2016.   Said another party official, who like the others asked not to be named, “As far as we know, this is the first time in Brooklyn’s history the committee did not reappoint a sitting Supreme Court judge — it’s unheard of.” Brooklyn Democratic judicial delegates will meet in September to select their candidates for the November ballot. The rules say they can’t vote for anyone found disqualified by the screening panel.  The suit claims Jacobson, who has 25 years of experience on the bench and is seeking re-election for a 14-year term, is being punished for rulings against lawyers affiliated with the Brooklyn Dems.  It also alleges that the screening board has been stacked by Frank Seddio, the chairman of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, even though it is meant to be independent.

After vigorous oral argument before Judge Jacobson on August 27, 2014, wherein Mr. Carone insisted that Judge Jacobson not enjoin SUNY, Judge Jacobson issued an Order With Temporary Restraining Order solely to preserve the status quo for the brief period until September 12, 2014. A true copy of this Order, which Mr. Carone agreed to the form, though not the result. Subsequent to argument before Judge Jacobson, The New York State Nurses Association apparently changed its position and sought relief not contemplated by the papers considered by Judge Jacobson on August 27, 2014. Accordingly, on September 29, 2014, Hon. Johnny Lee Baynes, the justice of the Supreme Court assigned to matter, issued an Interim.  Order denying The New York State Nurses Association’s application procedurally and substantively. 

City judge deemed incompetent in ‘unheard of’ move (NYP)  * Brooklyn judge blows off work amid being deemed ‘unqualified’(NYP)  * Judge ‘unqualified’ for re-election to file suit against party(NYP) * Tabloid Spread Prompts Libel Suit by NYC Judge - Courthouse News

The Removal of Judge Jacobson From the Court by the Machine was also Meant to Send A Message to Other Judges to Tow the Line - Favorable Ruling for lawyer Seddio Clients and His Lawyer Friends who Practice in the Court

Judge Jacobson lawsuit alleges that the screening board has been stacked by Frank Seddio, the chairman of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, even though it is meant to be independent. (Daily News).
Jacobson attorney Ravi Batra says the real story, as detailed in the lawsuit, is that Jacobson issued rulings against lawyers with ties to the Brooklyn Democratic machine, including some on the judicial screening committee."As 'payback' for Judge Jacobson’s refusal to judicially act bending and bowing to the Brooklyn political machine," the suit reads, party leaders "broke their own rules and procedures and violated the confidentiality of the judicial screening process with the vindictive and malicious intent of harming Judge Jacobson personally and professionally."   Jacobson’s lawsuit, meanwhile, demands that the screening committee be disbanded and is seeking at least five million dollars in damages. Jacobson is being punished for not using her professional position to help party bigwigs, the lawyer said.She delayed the contentious sale of Long Island College Hospital in 2014 by issuing a temporary restraining order on the State University of New York, which ram the institution. Seddio’s friend and former law partner Frank Carrone represented the state in that case and was none too happy about Jacobson’s ruling, the suit claims. “She did not show favoritism, she followed the law, she wasn’t a political puppet — that’s her crime,” Batra said.

Daily News Call the City Bar Association Seddio's Puppet
 "The city bar association also rates would-be judges. But Seddio, a honcho in the Brooklyn bar, influences that panel. Why even have a supposedly straight-arrow screening commission when it's tainted by bosses? You know the answer." - Daily News, Sep 06, 2017

Five Million Dollar Lawsuit filed By A Judge Jacobson Who After Being on the Bench for 23 Years, Was Dumped By Brooklyn Boss Seddeo  
Judge Jacobson Who Tried to Keep A Hospital Open *
is Suing Brooklyn Boss Seddio and His Fake Screen Panel for Dumping Her  * More on Closing Long Island College Hospital* Boss Seddeo * Judge Jacobson's Case Update  Brooklyn Democratic Boss Seddio

Judge closes book on Brooklyn Heights library, condo lawsuit (Brooklyn Eagle) A State Supreme Court judge dismissed an effort by community activists to halt the Brooklyn Heights library redevelopment project, which includes a 36-story condominium.  In a July 7 decision, Judge Dawn Jimenez-Salta dismissed LBL’s motion to void various city approvals given to the project, saying that those approvals were “not arbitrary and capricious,” as LBL alleged. Jimenez-Salta also ruled that LBL’s lawsuit was not served within the statue of limitations since the library was not served with a copy of the petition until more than three weeks after the statute of limitations expired. Shocker! Pier 6 towers, months into construction, ruled legal by judge (Brooklyn Paper) * Bedford Armory Developers File Plans Before Judge's Ruling - Patch * LICH: Everything you want to know (almost) about the deal to close Long Island College Hospital  * The End for Long Island College Hospital - The New York Times (NYT) Judges Orders LICH Hospital Closed

As the Jacobson Case Has Already Proven the Screen Panels are Control by the Party Bosses
The Daily News in an editorial called out the Bar Assoc of City of NY for claiming to have independent screening panels but neglected to tell us & public that Brooklyn Bar headed by Seddio was operating behind the scene. "Seddio, a honcho in the Brooklyn bar, influences the panel . . . Screening commission tainted by bosses," Daily News. The Bar Assoc says they conduct "investigations" and ask candidates to sign releases.  "These groups are all lawyers looking to collect data on Judges they'll have cases before," said an attorney running for judge who refused to go in front of the screening panel.  Right now, if you’re not a party activist, if you don’t belong to a political club, if you don’t work for that club, you will never be nominated at these judicial conventions. No other state has judicial conventions like New York’s. The legislature could create a system of selecting judges that gave voters a real voice instead of a rubber stamp.  But many state legislators, the people who can make that change, help pick judicial candidates.  And making a judge is a very powerful tool of a politician. For more information about the Judicial Convention and a record of judicial corruption.


The Independent Judicial Screen Committee for the Kings County Democratic Party is Anything but independent as many of the members of the screening committee have close ties to the Kings County Democratic Party.  In fact, 11 of the 25 members of the screening committee were appointed by Party Chairman Frank Seddio or District Leaders of the Democratic Party. In addition, many members of the screening committee socialize with Seddio and Law Chari Frank Carone, are active in bar associations with Seddio and Carone, or have work relationships with Seddio and Carone, Some examples include: 

Ethan Gerber
Part President of the Brooklyn Bar Association, Seddio is also a Past President and Carone is
currently the First Vice President.  Gerber and Gerber represent many developers.
Partner at Abrams,Fensterman, Law firm which held allegedly illegal fundraiser for 5 
Democratic Party back countywide judicial candidates in 2017, Abrams Fensterman is also 
the law firm of Frank Carone, law chair of the Kings County Democratic Party.
John Lonuzzi
Past President of Brooklyn Bar Association, Seddio is also a Past President and Carone 
is currently First Vice President.  Columbia Lawyers Association
Aimee L. Richter
President of Brooklyn Bar Association, Seddio is also a Past President and Carone is 
Currently First Vice President.
Martin W. Edelman
Co-Defendant alson with Frank Seddio in Laura Jacobson case against the Judicial Screening 
Mark A. Longo
Past President of the Brooklyn Bar Association, Seddio is also a Past President and Carone is 
currently First Vice President, Columbian Lawyers Association.
Grievance Committee for the 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts 
Scott Runecki
Scott Rynecki is a member of the law firm Rubinstein & Rynecki. Which donated $1,000 to 
“Friends of Frank Seddio” on 2/2/16 and over $6,000 to the Kings County Democratic 
Committee since 2014.  Ryneck and his partner Sanford Rubinstein personally paid 
“Friends of Fandk Seddio” $500 each on 12/17/17 and 3/16/15, respectively
Steven R. Finkelstein
Co-Defendant along with Frank Seddio in Laura Jacobson case against the Judicial Screening 
Committee. Finkelstein is the lawyer for the Public Administer in the Surrogate Court, where Jacobson cut the fees he was paid
Gregory T. Cerchione
Past President of Brooklyn Bar Association; Seddio is also a Past President and Carone is Currently 
First Vice President In 2018, Cerehione was honored as a Distinguished Guest by Frank Seddio in the annual Democratic Party Gala for helping “the party shine”
Cerchione is a principal at the law firm Subin & Associates.  Sibom & Associates 
has donated over $30,000 to the Kings County Democratic County Committee since 2013, 
Columbian lawyers association
Steve Benundo
Columbia Lawyers Association
Steve Decker
Husband of Pam Fisher who was appointed by Vito Lopez

Law Clerks From Banks Are Appointed by Brooklyn Boss Seddio Who Specialize in Bringing Foreclosure Actions by Banks and Lenders

Although Jacobson’s complaint in Jacobson v. Kings County Democratic County Committee, 16CV4809 did not identify Riley by name, it alleged “upon information and belief” that Seddio “has ‘appointed’ one, or more, attorneys who specialized in bringing foreclosure actions by banks and lenders to become ‘Law Clerk’ or ‘Law Secretary’ to Justices of the Supreme Court in Kings County Supreme Court dealing with foreclosure actions.” (See para. 189). (WiselawNY).  According to knowledgeable sources, Kings County Democratic Leader Frank R. Seddio is referring job seekers for positions at the Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn. Information to that effect has leached out and become widely known within the courthouse in the case of a lawyer, who was recently appointed as a law assistant to a judge handling civil cases, including foreclosures. The lawyer, whom Seddio is said to have helped, was Alexis Riley, who had spent the last two years as a “court appearance attorney” handling foreclosure cases for one of the most active lender firms, Rosicki, Rosicki & Associates, according to her LinkedIn profile, and for a second real-estate firm, now known as Friedman & Bartolo. I am aware of at least two persons, who have spoken to Riley about the help that Seddio gave her.

Bronx  Bronx Surrogate Judge, Facing Discipline (NYT)  Judge Holzman, the Bronx surrogate since 1988, is in the midst of a disciplinary hearing in which he is charged with allowing his staff to run amok and to take fees that were excessive and unearned from estates that it was handling. Judge Holzman could lose his job as a result of the hearing. *  Bronx Surrogate Court Judge Lee Holtzman Found Guilty of Official Misconduct By The New York State Commission On Judicial Conduct The charges stem from a complaint that the commission filed last year against Judge Holzman, who, as the Bronx surrogate since 1988, oversees wills and the estates of people who die without wills. The charges focused on excessive fees billed to estates

Judicial candidate got off easy for DWI bust when politician intervened

A Manhattan district court is about to get a new jurist who hasn’t always been sober as a judge.
Jeanine R. Johnson, 39, running unopposed for a slot on Harlem’s 10th Municipal Court, got off easy after a DWI bust in 2014 when her boss, then-Assemblyman Keith Wright, intervened.
And she’ll have Wright, now Manhattan’s Democratic Party leader, to thank for her elevation to the bench, critics say.
“The party leader can just make the judges,” said judicial activist Gary Tilzer. “It is as ugly as you can imagine.”
Johnson blew a .113 blood-alcohol level and was charged with reckless driving, resisting arrest, and driving while intoxicated after cops saw her swerving erratically as she left a Harlem bar at 4 a.m., police sources told The Post at the time.

The Brooklyn Machine Used Bosses Used Illegal Fund Raising Against Insurgents Judicial Candidates Last Year

When election season rolls around, voters do not usually pay much attention to judicial races. But a contested primary in Brooklyn this year is shaking up the system — a system some critics say illustrates political patronage at its worst. NY1's Bobby Cuza has the story.  New York voters generally have little information to go on when it comes to choosing judges, and often they have no choice at all.  That's because candidates are essentially picked by local Democratic Party leaders like Brooklyn party boss Frank Seddio. The party's muscle ensures that those without its backing usually don't bother running at all.  Brooklyn Judicial Race Aims to Break Machine Some Say Demonstrates Patronage (NY1) * VOTING FOR BROOKLYN CIVIL COURT JUDGE COUNTYWIDE

Brooklyn Judicial Race Aims to Break Machine Some Say Demonstrates Patronage
Brooklyn Judicial Race Aims to Break Machine Some Say Demonstrates Patronage
Brooklyn Judicial Race Aims to Break Machine Some Say Demonstrates Patronage
Brooklyn Judicial Race Aims to Break Machine Some Say Demonstrates Patronag
Who becomes a Judge is so important to the Brooklyn's Democratic Party County Leader Seddio that he is willing to host an illegal fundraiser to help his judge candidates and to violate judicial ethics rules by smearing independent judicial candidates running against his judges

Borough Dems Chief Involved in 'Illegal' Fund-Raiser for Judicial Candidates
A Brooklyn spokesman for several judicial candidates told the Daily News that's not the case with an event the head of the borough Democrats is planning for this month.  Gary Tilzer, a rep for five of the 11 candidates vying for six Brooklyn civil court judgeship's, sent a letter Monday to the state and city elections boards, as well as to the Judicial Campaign Ethics Center with the Office of Court Administration, saying borough Dems chief Frank Seddio is hosting an "illegal" fund-raiser on Aug. 23 at a law office in Downtown Brooklyn.  Seddio, an attorney, sent the red, white and blue invite to more than 185 people -- including sitting judges, judicial candidates, attorneys, developers, politicians, lobbyists and members of the Judicial Screening Committee. The invite vaguely touts fund-raising "to support our contested countywide candidates."  It doesn't specify the candidates who will benefit or the election that's involved. (Daily News)
Ethics Letter Filed With the State Board of Elections and Judicial Ethics Commission

Seddio's Flack Arzt Lied When He Said the Money Raised at the August Fund Raiser Would Not Be Used to Any Individual Campaign
The invitation to the Seddio's Fund Raiser said it was a "Fundraiser to Support Our Contested County Wide candidates." The only contested the Brooklyn machine was having this year were the 5 Civil Court judges.  

From Seddio's Flack Arzt's Press Release:
"The event on August 23rd is to raise money for the Kings County Democratic County Committee Campaign Committee, and all of its proceeds will go to support the Committee’s activities.  The event is not being held in financial support of any particular candidate or campaign cycle, none of the money raised will be directed to any individual campaign, and a candidate’s presence at the event does not signify political or financial support for the Democratic Party or it's candidates.  In fact, it is not remotely illegal for a judicial candidate to attend a political event or fundraiser so long as they are not raising money for their own campaign. Judicial Candidates are permitted by the rules governing judicial conduct to purchase two tickets at a cost not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars. Simply attending a politically sponsored event to meet people with the hope that they will support your candidacy is perfectly legal, and explicitly authorized by the rules.  The assertions demonstrate desperate times for desperate candidates."

How the Seddio Judges Broke the Election Law

The law is clear you cant do it.  But invitation just says county wide.  No Judicial stuff on invite but who has county backed countywide?  No BP race & county claims neutral in DA's race.
Looks sneaky. Like they set up deniability by not listing Judges

"The laws are strict on fund-raising for judges in order not to pull these kind of shenanigans," said Tilzer. "I'd like them to put a stop to this illegal fund-raiser."  The Brooklyn Democratic Party, under Seddio's direction, has been active in the campaigns of judges Robin Sheares and Frederick Arriaga, as well as those of David Pepper, Consuelo Melendez and Patria Frias-Colon, Tilzer wrote. "They even sent the invitation to the candidates they are backing ... This goes against election laws, and whatever judge or developer gave or gives money to this, it's illegal,"Tilzer said. Guests were instructed to write their $500 to $5,000 checks out to the Kings County Democratic County Committee, an account that's controlled by the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and mail them to Seddio's home address, according to the letter.   Tilzer's three-page letter to the committees said Seddio's fund-raising efforts violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and are unethical on seven points, including not disclosing who the event benefits, inviting sitting judges to contribute and, since the beneficiaries aren't named, having judicial candidates raising money with potential nonjudicial candidates.  Tilzer represents judicial candidates Patrick Haynes, Isiris Isella Isaac, Thomas Kennedy, John O'Hara and Sandra Roper.  Seddio, who had a short stint as a surrogate's court judge and stepped down in 2007 amid an investigation into misused campaign funds, was not available for comment.

From the Election Law on Fundraising for Judicial Candidates:
If a candidate wishes to accept contributions must do so through his campaign committee 22 NYCRR 100.5a4c    A judge who is a candidate for re-election should not participate in a campaign bank account maintained by a political organization, in which contributions received by the organization on behalf of the judge are mingled with contributions received on behalf of other judicial and non-judicial candidates.  No joint fund raising 22 NYCRR100.5A1
Contributions received on behalf of other judicial or non judicial candidates Opinion 97 80
A judicial candidate may not participate in a political organization’s campaign bank account that would comingle the funds contributed to one candidate with contributions of other judicial candidates
Rule 22 NYCRR 100.5a5

The County Committee Fund Raiser That Arzt Said Would Not Be Used for Any Candidate was Used to Attack the Judges Running Against Seddio Slate
Arzt's press release was reacting to complaint filed by the Independent Democratic slate running against Boss Seddio's judges.  Well not only was the money from the illegal fund raiser used to help Seddio's judicial candidates, it was used to pay for a mailing attacking the honesty of 4 of the judicial candidates running on the independent slate, Sandra Roper, Thomas Kennedy, Patrick Hayes and John O'Hara.  Team Seddio's attack centered on a Canard that the Independent Democratic slate was corrupt because they refused to go in front of a screening panel controlled by Brooklyn Democratic Machine.  It is against judicial campaign rules for judges to attack one another so Boss Seddio created a slush fund inside the county committee to get money from developers and other party contributors to elect his judges by attacking their opponents.  Still Boss Seddio lost 2 of his 5 judges.  But he lost more than an election.  A lawsuit will be filed this fall against the Brooklyn machine will drive Seddio and his mini me's from control of the party.  The Advance Group was paid 20,000 for the attack flyer.

Machine's County Committee Speculated in a County Wide Mailer That the Independent Democrat Slate Not Going A Judicial Screening Panel They Control Have Something to Hide
Opponent’s Conduct. The Committee has advised that a judicial candidate may comment on an opponent’s conduct, subject to certain limitations (Opinion 12-129[A]-[G], at Question 4). A candidate: should take steps to ensure the accuracy of the information he/she includes about any opponent, and make every effort to avoid misleading the public with mere speculation or innuendo Moreover, any reference to an opponent must be made in a manner which maintains the dignity appropriate to judicial office.

The Supreme Court is a trial court and is not the highest court in the state. The highest court of the State of New York is the Court of Appeals. Second, although it is a trial court, the Supreme Court sits as a "single great tribunal of general state-wide jurisdiction, rather than an aggregation of separate courts sitting in the several counties or judicial districts of the state." There is a branch of the Supreme Court in each of New York's 62 counties. Under the New York State Constitution, the New York State Supreme Court has unlimited jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases, with the exception of certain monetary claims against the State of New York itself. In practice, the Supreme Court hears civil actions involving claims above a certain monetary amount (for example, $25,000 in New York City) that puts the claim beyond the jurisdiction of lower courts.[3] Civil actions about lesser sums are heard by courts of limited jurisdiction, such as the New York City Civil Court.

What is A Judicial Back Fill?
How Does the Machine Use the Election Law to Cut Out the Voters

'Smoke-Filled Rooms' Still Rule New York Judicial Elections (WNYC) * More on How the Machine Runs Judges Unopposed (NY1) * Party Boss Has Firm Grip On Judgeships (NYT) * Borough Dems chief involved in 'illegal' fund-raiser for judicial candidates (NYDN) * Did Silver Corrupt the Manhattan Court?  * All About Judicial Races and Corruption     Bronx cheers as DA playsmusical chairs with judge. (WNYC) * Johnson Gets Judge Nod; Clark Tapped To Run For D.A.(Bronx Chronicle) * Johnson’s quick transformation from a candidate for re-election to a nominee for state court justice – without a vote being cast – is raising questions about the clout that state election law gives to party leaders and shedding light on New York’s largely obscure judicial electoral system.

There is a strong buzz that at his final good bye after raping the courts and destroying democracy in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn county leader frank Seddio is doing a legacy move.  Seddio is preparing to do several judicial back flips.  in the 4th judicial district (Ottley is unopposed in the primary it is expected that Ottley will be moving up and chichi will replace Ottley as the democratic candidate in the 4th primary.  In the 1st judicial district,  it is expected that Devin Cohen will be moved up to Supreme Court and replaced by current District Leader Ann Swern.  There are other flips also considered for Judgeships.  These flips are completely undemocratic since the voters are removed from the process of judge elections for 10 years.  

This article from the Jewish Press Openly Talks About Back Filling Judges 
Another primary contest next month involves a race for civil court judge in Brooklyn where four candidates (two incumbents and two challengers) are running to fill two positions. Loren Baily-Schiffman, 67, is seeking her third 10-year term to civil court. Baily-Schiffman, who appears on the ballot as Loren Baily, is currently filling in as an acting Supreme Court judge and wants to continue in that post beyond the mandatory retirement age of 70. This is where New York’s arcane court system and election law gets a bit complicated. A week after she runs for reelection to civil court, Baily-Schiffman plans to seek one of three open seats on the state Supreme Court bench during a judicial convention where delegates, chosen by Democratic Party leaders, nominate candidates for the higher court for the general election. A Democratic nomination to the Supreme Court in Brooklyn is tantamount to victory in November because of the party registration advantage in the borough. Baily-Schiffman says there are about a dozen people seeking a spot on the Supreme Court, which pays $208,000 a year. Civil court judges earn $175,000 a year. “I’m running for reelection to Civil Court and then I’m running for Supreme Court,” Baily-Schiffman told The Jewish Press. “The county organization can fill my Civil Court slot. That’s called a flip seat.” There’s one other wrinkle in this process. Baily-Schiffman only has three years before reaching mandatory retirement age, but if she sits on the Supreme Court, she can petition the Office of Court Administration up to three times for a two-year extension while someone else gets appointed by district leaders to the seat she retires from. That would mean another judge serving on the Supreme Court for 10 years from Brooklyn without an election. Baily-Schiffman has her detractors. She has been called a “liberal judge” who does not always side with law enforcement officials. But Baily-Schiffman says, “I am extremely fair. I treat everyone in my courtroom the same no matter who they are. Everyone gets a fair hearing in my courtroom. It’s important that everybody’s rights be respected and everybody’s individual person be respected. That’s what happens in my courtroom, and it has for 20 years.” Her husband, Harry, is a congregant at the Young Israel of Flatbush, and while Baily-Schiffman does not belong to a synagogue, she says she has much support in the Orthodox Jewish community. Widowed once and divorced once, the Prospect Park South resident is on her third marriage. She has one child, four stepsons, and 15 grandchildren. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ohio-based private liberal arts Oberlin College and was admitted to the New York state Bar in 1978 after attending New York Law School. The only other Jewish candidate seeking the Civil Court position is Saul Cohen, 37, of Midwood and a congregant of Bnei Shelomo v’Yaffa, a Syrian-Sephardic congregation in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Cohen is married and has three children. He is an alumnus of Rutgers University, graduating with an Administration of Justice degree. He received his law degree from Seton Hall University Law School. Cohen is an insurgent candidate, not backed by Brooklyn’s party leaders. We’ll see if voters go to the polls next month choosing party-backed candidates or insurgents who call themselves independent Democrats.

What is a Machine Back Fill?
The sleazy deal that allowed Robert Johnson to trade his Bronx district attorney’s job for a judge’s seat in state Supreme Court will come with a mega payday. Johnson, a Bronx native, announced plans to resign almost immediately after winning the Democratic primary on Sept. 10.   That allowed the county’s party leaders to choose his replacement on the November general-election ballot, Appellate Division Judge Darcel Clark.  In the heavily Democratic Bronx, the Democratic nomination is tantamount to election.  Johnson denied widespread reports and criticism that he was approached by fellow Democrats to time his resignation to avoid a possible primary.  But government watchdogs said his actions and those of Bronx Democratic leaders smelled.  “They want to be able to control who holds that office if you open it up to the voters, which is the Democratic way, you can’t control who goes in there,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union.  “That ability to determine who is representing their interests in law enforcement is being undermined by this electoral process.”
Johnson presided over a DA’s office that perpetually had the worst conviction rate in the city for major crimes. When it came to government corruption, it was US Attorney Preet Bharara who brought cases that sent Bronx politicians to prison — not Johnson.

The Civil Court of the City of New York is a civil court of the New York State Unified Court System in New York City that decides lawsuits involving claims for damages up to $25,000 and includes a small claims part (small claims court) for cases involving amounts up to $5,000 as well as a housing part (housing court) for landlord-tenant matters, and also handles other civil matters referred by the New York Supreme Court.  It handles about 25% of all the New York state and local courts' total filings. The court has divisions by county (borough), but it is a single citywide court. An regular election occurred for civil and surrogate courts candidates. Candidates for the supreme courts are chosen indirectly by delegates and appear only on the general election ballot.


"The Surrogate Court is A Political Toll Booth Exacting Tribute From Widows and Orphans" 
                      - Robert Kennedy, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia 
In the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called Surrogate's Court "the most expensive undertaking establishment in the world." He believed it was control of the Surrogate's Court of New York County, more than any other factor, that kept the Tammany Hall political machine alive through the lean years when he deprived it of city jobs and President Franklin Roosevelt denied it federal jobs. All wills are probated in this court and all estates of people who die without a will are handled in this court. Unclaimed property of the deceased without wills is handled by the Judge of this court. It also handles adoptions. There is a Surrogate's Court in each county in the state.

Senator Kennedy Serious Try to Reform Surrogate Court

Queens  A Court, Not Votes, Sustains a Political Machine in Queens (NYT, 11/28/11)

Bronx  Bronx Surrogate Judge, Facing Discipline (NYT)

Brooklyn Lawyer makes millions with no details on fees - New York Daily News

Staten Island Expose Corrupt Courts: Cover-Up Continues in Surrogate's Court 

Facts About Manhattan Surrogate Court 2008: Feinberg Disbarred ...How insiders snatch millions from estates in the scandal-scarred Surrogate CourtsTo clean up corrupt Surrogate Courts, wake up and vote - NY Daily ...The Fall of the Phillips Empire | Local Brooklyn News and Features ...A TRAIL OF SWEAT, TEARS  Jimmy Breslin    *For Cleaner Courts in Brooklyn (NYT)* Brooklyn New York Surrogate Court Judge Michael Feinberg Ousted For Corrupt Practices State Commission Seeking Ouster of Surrogate Judge in Brooklyn ... * Surrogate's Court And Why It Should Go (True News)


Party Puppets Rubber Stamp The Political Bosses Pick for Supreme Court Judges

"A dozen delegates, in recent interviews, said they could not even remember the handful of candidates they had nominated for the State Supreme Court last year. They said the convention, as always, had been a carefully scripted event lasting less than an hour.  Whether the candidates were potentially outstanding judges, the delegates said they never knew. Before the convention, the party never makes an effort to inform them about which candidates are going to be nominated. In fact, the names are often secret." NY Times 2003

Picking Judges: Party Machines, Rubber Stamps - New York Times 2003
For decades in New York, the law has required that political parties nominate candidates to run for State Supreme Court at judicial conventions, not in primaries. The conventions are attended by delegates who are elected on the neighborhood level and who are supposed to evaluate candidates before offering the best ones a spot on the November ballot. In theory, the conventions are intended to help achieve the civic goal of allowing citizens, through their votes, to decide the makeup of the state's highest trial court. But in practice, according to legal experts, prosecutors and even the delegates themselves, the conventions have long been highly cynical exercises, just another cog in the operations of political party machines. There is, for instance, often no debate about candidates, and party leaders wind up dictating nominations, frequently handing them to loyalists who have donated to the party or worked on campaigns. In fact, the nominating conventions have received so little attention that the City Board of Elections says it does not even keep an official record of those who serve as convention delegates -- the people legally charged with helping determine who gets on the bench.

Judicial Selection for Supreme Court Justices December 2006   * Who Really Picks New York's Judges? | Brennan Center for Justice 2015  * 'Smoke-Filled Rooms' Still Rule New York Judicial Elections - WNYC ... * NEW YORK STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS ET AL. v. LOPEZ TORRES ET AL.Longtime Bronx DA Secures Nomination for Judge - Norwood News * Judicial Sausage Factory Continues, Almost Nobody Noticed

Battle of the Grifters
Disgraced Brooklyn Party Boss Regains Influence  (Independent)
Theodore Hamm June 28, 2018
He’s retired, out of politics,” says Brooklyn district leader Geoffrey Davis regarding former Democratic party boss Clarence Norman. But then again, Davis adds, “Does anyone ever really retire?”

Since his return from prison in 2011, Norman has indeed steadily reasserted his influence. Starting with Ken Thompson’s successful 2013 effort to topple his nemesis, District Attorney Joe Hynes, Norman has played a key role in local elections. This past May, Norman effectively chose the Brooklyn party’s candidate for surrogate court judge on this fall’s ballot.
Judge selection may not sound like a consequential move, but backing candidates is one of the party organization’s main functions. And picking judges has been a primary concern of the current Democratic boss, Frank Seddio.  Norman went to prison for a slew of campaign violations, including extortion in civil court judge campaigns. His return to backstage influence raises important questions about the future of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party. That’s especially the case because many insiders predict that Norman, via his ties to the ascendant Hakeem Jeffries wing of the party, will exert plenty of influence when it comes to choosing Seddio’s successor.

So many New York politicians are desperate to be perceived as progressives today that they are counterfeiting the label, slapping it on their backs and making it as worthless as designer handbags and watches sold on Canal Street in Manhattan.  The objective of progressive politics in the United States since World War II has been to end racial and ethnic inequality and poverty through community empowerment.  The Anti-Viet Nam reform activist who entered politics in the 70s in NYC understood that the courts were the machine made their money.  Granted many of the progressives today have no idea about the political party bosses and the courts.  True News has produced this blog to help true progressives up to speed.  On close inspection, many of these counterfeit progressives are just the same old establishment hacks seeking power and control.
Frances Perkins and Today’s Progressives

Frances Perkins New Deal Roots Being Destroyed in Progressive NYC 

The Silver Asbestos Court Still Being Covered Up

Daily News Says Fix is in for Excessive Pay Hikes
Asbestos court gets a boost thanks to Silver conviction (NYP) Ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction has helped pull New York City’s “asbestos court,” where he held influence, up from its spot as the nation’s worst “judicial hellhole.” The American Tort Reform Foundation now says California courts hold the title. “With Silver perhaps headed to prison . . . the Big Apple may begin to bob up from the bottom of the barrel,” the report says.* Silver’s son-in-law gets two years in prison for Ponzi scheme (NYP) * A son-in-law of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to two years in prison, well-below federal sentencing guidelines, after admitting he cheated four investors out of nearly $6 million in a Ponzi scheme, the Times reports:  * Sheldon Silver’s son-in-law will spend 2 years in prison for $6M Ponzi scheme (NYDN) * Golden gavels for state judges getting excessive pay hikes (NYDN Ed)

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