Sunday, December 25, 2011

All About Judicial Races and Corruption 8881

* State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is among a number of judges who have taxpayer-paid cars and state-employed chauffeurs assigned to them, the Times Union’s Jim Odato reports:

Cuomo High Court JCOPE Connection  
The Daily News writes that judge Janet DiFiore, Gov. AndrewCuomo’s nomination for the state’s top judgeship, will have to answer questions on her propensity for closed door meetings while leading the Joint Commission on Public Ethics: DiFiore was Cuomo’s pick to be the first chair of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the lame watchdog birthed in December 2011 that’s failed miserably to root out corruption ever since. DiFiore quit JCOPE in April 2013 after only 16 months. She can’t be held to account for the office’s built-in deficiencies, which Cuomo unwisely accepted from legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. But in state Senate confirmation hearings, DiFiore must answer for her propensity for closed-door dealings on the panel. And she must explain why the agency probed sexual harassment charges against late ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez — but not how Silver used tax dollars to hush them up. The courts must be open. And they must also be wholly independent from the executive branch.*  Gov. Cuomo’s newcontrol over New York’s courts is dangerous (NYP) Janet DiFiore may have all the skills to be New York’s top judge, the job for which Gov. Cuomo just nominated her. Question is: Will she have the independence from him that’s so essential for that post? That’s even more worrisome, given that Cuomo continues to refuse to name a Republican to the state’s highest court. Cuomo tapped DiFiore, Westchester’s DA, to be the New York Court of Appeals’ chief judge. In that post, she’ll also oversee the state’s vast judicial bureaucracy. DiFiore who for 16 months headed the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics — Cuomo’s “independent monitor” of legislative corruption that turned out to be anything but. Recall how one JCOPE board member quit early on, charging both the agency and DiFiore were being manipulated by the governor’s office, an increasingly common complaint at other state agencies, as well. Meanwhile, Cuomo has now appointed five of the top court’s seven members; there’s one vacancy and another seat opening next year because of mandatory retirement. That creates the possibility for a lot of control for someone who clearly enjoys exerting it. Cuomo can assuage critics, of course, by nominating a Republican. The judicial screening panel for chief judge offered two well-qualified choices: former US Attorney Michael Garcia and former Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti. * With the appointment of Janet DiFiore to the state Supreme Court, Cuomo has appointed five of the court’s seven members and may enjoy too much control, so he should assuage related concerns by nominating a Republican, the Post writes:  *The NY Post questions Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore’s ability to be independent from Cuomo in the post of chief judge of the Court of Appeals, for which he has nominated her, and also expresses dismay that the governor has yet to appoint a Republican to that bench.
More on NYS Judges
See You Judge

No to Old to Judges
Proposition 6, which would have raised the mandatory retirement age for judges on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, was defeated, with 61 percent of voters opposing the constitutional amendment, the Times writes: More good news for Cuomo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo might be able to pack the state's highest court after all. The apparent failure of a proposal to extend the mandatory age for judicial retirement means Cuomo would be able to appoint a majority of the state's highest court if he wins a second term. Cuomo will now get the politically valuable opportunity to make three new appointments that would have been postponed by the measure. Lippman reacts: “I am disappointed,” Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said after the results came in. “We were unable to get a consistent message across that people should be judged on their ability to do the job and not on some outdated conceptions of age.”
Loser of  the Week Jonathan Lippman - The only constitutional amendment up for a vote this year that failed was Lippman’s pet project: the raising of age limits on certain state judges, including himself. It didn’t help that the governor opposed the change, and others argued that it would have unfairly singled out higher-level judges for special treatment. For Lippman, the state’s top judge, the voters’ verdict means that he’ll have to retire a few years earlier. That’s not so bad, right?

Soviet Style Election and No Ethics for NY's Judge Candidates

Only Two Judges one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn faced primaries this year.  All the others were picked by the party bosses and were unopposed in the primaries. Many of the bosses picks don't even follow the court rules.

Too many judicial candidates in the city  are violating court rules in their campaigns  (NYDN) With bosses like Keith Wright and Vito Lopez in their corners, they can flout their responsibilities.  All judicial candidates must file financial disclosure statements. Two Manhattan lawyers with uncontested tickets to Civil Court, Alex Tisch and Erika Edwards, never fulfilled this obligation.  They are backed by Manhattan Democratic boss Keith Wright, as is Civil Court Judge Analisa Torres, running for Supreme Court. She never completed judicial campaign ethics training. The rules state: “A candidate who fails to complete the training at all, or fails to complete it in a timely manner, will be subject to discipline.” Eight others were late. 

One Supreme Court candidate who did his paperwork is Carl Landicino. A close associate of Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez, Landicino has performed legal duties for Lopez, including mounting actions to throw would-be reform candidates off the ballot.  Vito helped get a dirty judge elected as a delegate to the judicial convention. * Vito got a building super fired for supporting a rival to Vito's pick for a council seat. * The City and State are investigating his not-for-profits. * The Feds are also looking into them. * Mayor Bloomberg tried to distance himself from the scandal. Nice try, pal. 

Old Judges Referendum
Voters To Consider Referendum To Raise Retirement Age For State Judges (NY1) Voters can vote on a ballot referendum in November to change the state Constitution so that judges on the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals would be able to retire at 80 instead of 70, though critics contend that it would stifle diversity * A bill to raise the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 80 is seen by some as "a favor from embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to his good friend Jonathan Lippman," the state's top judge who will turn 70 in 2015. [Zack Fink] * The Other Referendum(YNN) * Group Forms To Back Raising The Reitrement Age For Judges(YNN) * Law Firms Backing Retirement Age Change For Judges(YNN) * A filing with the state Board of Elections shows that a committee promoting an amendment to raise the retirement age for state judges is being paid for by some of the state’s most prominent law firms, State of Politics writes: 

The NY Post Is Backed Into A Position to Prove Judgehips Are For Sale in Brooklyn

The NYP Brings Down Pols Like the  Washington Post?
NYP: The Accidental Muckraking Reformer 

Not with Journalists But With Lawyers

A lawsuit that can damage the Post and Murdoch has created an all out war pitting the tabloid newspaper against the New York State court system and a good chunk of the political power structure of Brooklyn.


The Father of the Brooklyn Judges for Sale Investigation is the Late Jack Newfield
Continuing Newfield's Investigation
A libel suit filed by Judge Francois Rivera against The New York Post in response the papers charges in 2005 that he told a grand jury he paid 50,000 for the judgeship, has turned Murdoch paper into the instrument that will finally prove that the late journalist former NYP columnist Jack Newfield was trying to prove at the the time of his death that the sale of judgeships are a common practice in Brooklyn.


 If the NYP Wins the Lawsuit the Corrupt Brooklyn Machine Will Be Destroyed

Crusading Italian prosecutor
Organized Crime Politics
The NYP has become New York's version of crusading Italian prosecutor Giovanni Falcone who was doing such a good job exposing the mafia that they blew him up in his car.  The lawsuit has forced the Post to prove in court what the Brooklyn DA, U.S. Supreme Court and the newspaper stories were unwilling or unable to do, to prove that  judgeships are for sale in Brooklyn.  More importantly the NYP without writing a single story has the power with this lawsuit to end what the reformers and good government groups were unable to do, end the corrupt political machines control over who get an elective judgeship and who is elected to most of the boroughs elective offices.


 NY Post's Lawyers: When Rain Becomes Fire
Bk Underclass Political Consultants
Unable to get the testimony in a deposition it wanted from the plaintiff Judge Rivera because another judge ruled his grand jury testimony on the sale of judgeships was off limits to the paper because what he said there is supposed to be kept secret.  The Post issued subpoenas to eight supreme court judges and a cast of political consultants who look and operate more like a rogues gallery of the criminal underclass right out of a Dickens' novel. The Brooklyn DAs top aids also were subpoenaed. The post wants each one of those subpoenaed to tell their lawyers under oath what they know about the sale of judgeships. 

Lower Court Judge Tried to Stop the Post
NYS Appellate Court Overruled: Says NY Post Ask Your Questions 
Judge Milton Tingling who agreed with the objections filed by the judges and political operatives tried to kill the NYP subpoenas as overreaching was forced by the Court of Appeals to overrule his own ruling.  15 or the 16 pages of Judge Tingling ordered overruling decision offered reasons why he believed the Appeals Court decision wrong. The last page granted the order of the higher court.  That 16 page decision according to some lawyers caused enough friction between the judge and the higher court that they sent an additional message to the lower court judge last week when they overruled three more of Tingling decision in one day.

Here are some key lines from the April 12ruling of Judge Tingling:
“Rivera must now respond and reveal any information he may have shared with a Grand Jury irrespective of materiality to the issues at hand and any confidentiality under which he testified at the time is now obliterated.”
And for more reading, here’s Judge Tingling original ruling on the case.

Part II of NYP: Judgeships for Sale
All you want to know about the judge being subpoenaed and why others should be

Part III of NYP: Judgeships for Sale
What the political consultant know 

Elected Judges Barred From Presiding Over Cases Involving Campaign Donors(NY1)



Harlem Lawyers Fast-Tracked For Judgeships(NYDN)








Judges Fight to Stay On Longer

A proposal on the November ballot to allow some judges to serve until they are 80 years old is not drawing a lot of support.
Watch Chief Judge Lippman make the case for raising the retirement age for top jurists on Here's a taste: 
Justice For All Continues To Garner Law Firm Contributions (YNN)
Lawyer group spends $371k pushing judicial age amendment (Press Connect)



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