NEW PARTY TACKLES DEMS OVER JUDGES

Daily News

September 21, 2003, Sunday SPORTS FINAL EDITION

NEW PARTY TACKLES DEMS OVER JUDGES

by NANCIE L. KATZ DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

In a telling sign of the Brooklyn Democratic organization's eroding power, the Working Families Party has nominated its own slate of candidates for Supreme Court.
The party, which has supplanted the Liberal Party as the predominant third party in the city, normally backs the same candidates on the Democratic slate.
But Working Families spokesman Dan Cantor branded the Democrats' judge-picking process as tainted.
"There are an enormous number of Democrats who are dismayed and disgusted by accounts of judges . . . selling out," Cantor said. "People are not going to vote mindlessly for a slate chosen in a tainted process."
While political observers give the Working Families Party little chance to make an impact in the elections, its best shot may be anti-machine crusader Margarita Lopez-Torres, a Civil Court judge who was rejected by the Brooklyn Dems last week.
The failed attempt to get Lopez-Torres nominated nearly ended in fisticuffs between warring delegates. Park Slope delegate and fellow insurgent Alan Fleishman accused Ralph Perfetto of Bay Ridge of "cutting a deal" with Dem boss Clarence Norman and turning his back on the movement to clean up judicial selection.
The borough's Democratic Party is being investigated by District Attorney Charles Hynes for allegedly selling judgeships.
Last week, Democratic delegates nominated incumbent Supreme Court Justices Michael Pesce, Herbert Kramer and Theodore Jones, along with Civil Court judges Arthur Schack, Martin Solomon, Bernadette Bayne, Raymond Guzman and Bruce Balter to run in November's judicial elections.
On the Working Families slate are Lopez-Torres, Jones, Kramer and attorneys Robert Newman, Rosemary Palladino of Staten Island, Lyle Silversmith and Alexander Eisemann."The conventional wisdom is that once the Democrats pick you it's over. No more," Cantor said.
Although Fleishman predicted Lopez-Torres could win, veteran Brooklyn lawyer Andrew Fisher was doubtful.
"This is certainly a striking contrast to the way the Liberal Party used to do business," he said. "It is certainly a reflection that key decision makers don't want to be that closely aligned to the Democratic Party chairman."

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