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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Politics Turns Ours Courts Into Corrupt Patronage Mills

Brooklyn's Old Guard political fixers will have to answer to the New Guard
The New York Daily News by Errol Louis - January 14, 2010

In a state that desperately needs a political overhaul and fresh blood, it's welcome news that some Brooklyn reformers are organizing an effort to confront Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who doubles as Democratic Party boss. As always in Kings County, the battle revolves around courthouse politics. Lopez recently jammed an unqualified crony named Pamela Fisher onto the Civil Court bench, in an unusually ham-fisted display of power that should disturb everyone. Fisher, who spent years as an employee in the assemblyman's social service empire, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, completed law school nearly two decades ago but has never practiced law. Her résumé includes a drift from one low-ranking government post to another and unsuccessful runs for City Council and Assembly. After 19 years of avoiding the practice of law, she suddenly landed an $85,000-a-year job as a clerk to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Mark Partnow. And with nine months of legal experience, she ran unopposed for Civil Court with Lopez's blessing, winning a 10-year term as a judge at a $125,600 annual salary. That has reform-minded Brooklyn pols and activists furious.

"Vito Lopez has turned the courts into a patronage mill," says the Rev. Taharka Robinson, an activcist and son of Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, a party district leader. "This was somebody who had almost no legal experience, and didn't even submit paperwork to the screening panel. But the county leader endorsed her," says attorney Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic district leader. This sort of foolishness was supposed to have ended in recent years. Following a wave of scandals that saw several judges censured, bounced from the bench and/or packed off to prison, the county organization agreed to have candidates go before a screening panel. The panels themselves are far from perfect. But they at least offer a semblance of honest review and enable the public to spot party manipulation.

Fisher didn't even bother putting her thin résumé before the panel, making a mockery of the notion of basing judicial nominations on merit. She also failed to file any of the required preelection paperwork showing where her campaign funds came from. Lopez says his support for Fisher is based on his capacity as a Bushwick-based political club leader supporting an ally, and was not an exercise of his power as county boss. That won't satisfy Brooklyn's restless reformers. Robinson is staging a protest in front of the party's Court St. headquarters at 1 p.m. today and will call for Lopez to quit. He may be joined by members of the New Kings Democrats, a group of young, pro-reform grass-roots activists. Last fall, the club ran dozens of candidates for county committee, slowly becoming party foot soldiers who are sure to rise in influence. "We're trying to build a new infrastructure," says 25-year-old Lincoln Restler, a New Kings vice president. The turmoil is welcome and long overdue. One way or another, Brooklyn is showing what the rest of New York State is learning: fixing what's wrong in Albany and City Hall and the courts starts with reforming politics at the grass roots.


Anonymous said...

Very good article by Louis, and so true! Someone needs to send this to Bloomberg and Paterson.

Anonymous said...

when are the judges going to turn the low life politicians in?
that is when we will see change, when the judges say
no more low life's rule my life!

Anonymous said...

that is like Maziarzs brother in
law, they didn't even tell anyone, he just became judge.......
no lawn trash signs necessary.......
hey Judges with Honor where are you,
these low lifes will teach each other

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the NY Daily News for continuing to write these articles.

I've also noticed that the NY Times is starting to pick up on corrupt NY politics and writing articles that are exposing the problems and the grassroots support of the citizens for exposing and fighting corruption.

When the Times allows comments on these stories, it is clear that their readers and commentors are sick and tierd of all the corruption that is going on in the state. It's surprising and heartening that there is so much anger out there against these crooks.

Anonymous said...

This most certainly is going to be a people's movement that will crush this judicial corruption and make sure it never rears it's political hacks heads in our lifetime!
Information is coming about the way OCA operates in their criminal mode and it includes the names of executive directors, administrative judges,appellate and supreme court judges, OCA'S counsel's office and all their girlfriends.

Anonymous said...

the truth hurts the whore's, that is why! because someone figured them out for what they are!

Anonymous said...

I think this is good news. I do have some 'legal' experience being a cop. Maybe I should apply for a judgeship. I don't do much anyway so why not do less and become a judge and get paid for doing it.

Anonymous said...

Where's the Bklyn DA when you need him???

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