Approved by Judicial Screening Pannel

New York Law Journal
June 24, 2003, Tuesday

Brooklyn Panel Approves 17 Judge Candidates

By Daniel Wise

THE BROOKLYN Democratic Party's judicial screening panel has approved the overwhelming number of candidates who had sought its recommendation for five Supreme Court vacancies this year, sources report.
However, of the six candidates it rejected, three are Civil Court judges who had won their seats after besting an organization-backed candidate in a primary, according to those sources.
Civil Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres, who defeated an organization backed candidate in a bitterly contested primary last year, however, won the committee's nod. A year ago the screening panel had refused to entertain Judge Torres' application because her name had not been forwarded to it by the party's leadership.
Meanwhile, two sources familiar with the operations of the panel questioned the degree to which it is independent of the party's leadership.
George Farkas, who resigned from the screening panel in early May, said it was his "perception" that some members of the committee might not have felt "free to vote their consciences" because of the presence on the committee of Ravi Batra, with whom the Brooklyn party leader, Assemblyman Clarence Norman, has had an of counsel relationship.
Mr. Farkas, a former president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association who served on the committee for six years, said that Mr. Batra, who himself resigned from the committee last week, was viewed as being closely aligned with the party leadership, and that members who had interests in party affairs might have been "constrained" by his presence.
Another source said that committee members were afraid to make critical comments of candidates for fear they would be reported back to party leaders.
One committee member, John P. Gulino, a general practitioner on Staten Island, sharply disputed with those views yesterday, saying they were "absolutely not true." He added, "I have never had any inhibition from speaking my mind" in committee deliberations.
Mr. Batra called Mr. Farkas' comments "completely meritless and a shameless attempt at revisionist history."
The panel approved at least 17 candidates who sought its recommendation for a Supreme Court nomination. Under the party's rules, only candidates who have been cleared by the screening panel are eligible to be selected as the party's nominees at its judicial nominating convention which is held in September.
Most of those approved by the screening panel are sitting Civil Court judges. Among the Civil Court judges approved were Rachael A. Adams, Jack M. Battaglia, Bruce M. Balter, Bernadette Bayne, Lila Gold, Sara L. Krauss, Donald S. Kurtz, Eric I. Prus, Karen Rothenberg, Wayne Saitta, Arthur M. Schack, David I. Schmidt, Debra Silver, Kathryn M. Smith, Martin Solomon and Judge Torres.
In addition, Richard S. Goldberg who practices in a partnership with Steven D. Cohn, a former president of the Brooklyn Bar Association and currently the secretary of the Brooklyn Democratic party, was cleared by the screening panel.
Among those rejected by the panel were three judges who had defeated organization backed candidates in primaries. They are Civil Court Judges Loren Bailey-Schiffman, Betty Williams and Sylvia O'Hinds-Radix. One organization-backed Civil Court judge, Delores L. Waltrous was rejected as was lawyer Richard Velasquez.
In addition to Judge Torres, another of the approved judges, Judge Baynes, had won election in a primary against an organization backed judge.
Several of the rejected candidates will be appearing before the committee again for a "reconsideration" on July 1.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?