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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Judge in Dispute With D.A. Is Reappointed by Mayor

Judge in Dispute With Queens D.A. Is Reappointed by Bloomberg
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - December 29, 2010

Criminal Court Judge Joel L. Blumenfeld, who is in the midst of a legal battle with Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, has been reappointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to a new full 10-year term. Judge Blumenfeld, 65, who has been a Criminal Court judge since 1987 and an acting Supreme Court justice since 1991, signed his oath of office at City Hall yesterday, a spokesman for the mayor confirmed. Mr. Brown has a writ of prohibition pending in the Appellate Division, Second Department, seeking to bar Justice Blumenfeld from ruling in a suppression proceeding on the ethical propriety of the district attorney's program for questioning suspects while they are being held at Queens courthouses before their arraignments. Mr. Brown also had written to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on the Judiciary opposing Justice Blumenfeld's reappointment, according to several sources who had been briefed about the contents of the document (NYLJ, Oct. 15). Citing confidentiality of the appointment process, Mr. Brown would not comment on whether he had sent a letter. By executive order, Mr. Bloomberg could not have re-appointed Judge Blumenfeld unless he had been approved by the mayor's 19-member advisory committee and the New York City Bar. Zachary Carter, the chairman of the committee, would not discuss the appointment process. Asked about opposition to his reappointment, Judge Blumenfeld said in a brief phone interview yesterday that "I will move on and do my job" and the district attorney's office "will do its job." Mr. Brown, through his press aide, Kevin Ryan, declined to comment. Steven J. Singer, a defense lawyer who spearheaded a drive to support Judge Blumenfeld's reappointment, called the judge one of the top three "shining stars" hearing criminal cases in Queens Supreme Court. Mr. Singer is a former president of the Queens County Bar Association. Mr. Brown charged in his petition, Brown v. Blumenfeld, 2010-9688, that Judge Blumenfeld's actions were "transforming the simple suppression motion pending before him into a shadow grievance proceeding at which he could publicly accuse, try, and judge the District Attorney and his Assistants, without affording them any of the rights or protections normally inherent in any such proceeding" (NYLJ, Oct. 15). Judge Blumenfeld, in a memorandum written by his lawyer Mark Pomerantz of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, called the petition an attempt "to muzzle a sitting judge from ruling on issues properly before him," which is "unprecedented, unsound, and unwise" and "ought [to] be swiftly rejected" (NYLJ, Nov. 22). Mr. Brown replied that he had no objections to discussing his interview program publicly but that the suppression motion before Judge Blumenfeld did not offer the appropriate forum for such an examination (NYLJ, Dec. 20). Judge Blumenfeld, a former criminal defense lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, was appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch in 1987 to fill out the term of a judge who had left the bench. Mr. Koch appointed him to a full 10-year term in 1989. In 1999, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani reappointed the judge to a two-year term over the objections of Mr. Brown. Mr. Giuliani reappointed Judge Blumenfeld to a full 10-year term in 2001. According to sources, Mr. Brown's opposition to giving Judge Blumenfeld a third 10-year term was related to the district attorney's perception that the judge had exhibited a pro-defense bias. In addition to Judge Blumenfeld, three other Criminal Court judges also signed oaths of office yesterday after being reappointed by the mayor: Judges John S. Moore and Ethan Greenberg, acting Supreme Court justices sitting in the Bronx, and Criminal Court Judge Michael A. Gary, an acting Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn. Daniel Wise can be contacted at


asking said...

What happened to judges being elected?

Anonymous said...

More focus needs to be put on these city judges. They are awful.

Anonymous said...

This judge happens to be one of the brightest, most honorable and extremely fair jurists in NYC. He actually read the Constitution and applies it! Don't be so quick to condemn all judges! Definitely NOT the Hon. Blumenfeld. We need more like him!!!!!

Anonymous said...

People v. McCoy - Richmond County, NY 1997.

what the ruling pretty much say is that once defendant reaches a point in the criminal justice system there is a presumption the defendant is represented by an attorney.

A program to interview prisoners waiting for arraignment is laudable, and is pro-active by the district attorney. BUT it should stop when it concerns the interviewee/prisoner's matter.

If the prisoner wants to give the police information about a thousand other crimes and suspects, then there is a lot of good that can come of it.

The criminal justice system cries out for responsible and independant judges, not liberal one, not conservative ones, not any specific view, but JUDGES that rule on matters of law, not on the orders of the district attorneys.

Anonymous said...

Judge Blumenfeld became the subject of much controversy when he vacated a conviction of a long imprisoned man after a false audio tape was made of a man offering evidence that another person committed the crime.

Judge Blumenfeld granted bail and stated he would rule on 'vacating' the vacating after a hearing.

Queens ADA Leventhal wasn't happy.

Mr.Leventhal should be reminded of what he did or didn't do when he was presented with another false statement that went 'unnoticed' by Mr.Leventhal and the Office.

May 30 1997, one Jason Ligon 'offered' a statement to detectives regarding his participation in a murder of an off duty NYPD police officer and his part time employer. It was very detailed and specific. The ONLY problem is it wasn't TRUE.

Mr.Ligon remained in jail until May, 2000, or long after the district attorney HAD to know his statement was a lie and was fabricated by detectives. Ligon remained in jail until the four trials in the murder case were over and convictions were obtained. 2 weeks later Ligon was set free without opposition from the district attorney.

It just might be that Judge Blumenfeld is aware of such miscondut, he probably is.....and is doing his part to minimize the outrages of a prosecutor gone wild.

Anonymous said...

Judges like this belong on the Appellate Division and highest courts of the state and nation. He has judicial COURAGE and is truly a constitutional and legal scholar.

Anonymous said...

It's always interesting how the DA's office can secure convictions without evidence. Kudos to the Hon. Blumenfeld!

Anonymous said...

5:21PM - that is why you need judges like Joel Blumenfeld. Once you are convicted it is nigh impossible to get it over- turned. Just too much to ask them to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We need more judges like Joel Blumenfeld to mitigate the damage done by an overzealous and completely unethical District Attorney.

Of course Brown doesn't want Blumenfeld to be re-elected... Blumenfeld inquired into Brown's shady interrogation practices.

When you are arrested and interrogated by the Queens DA's office (and really, it's just a matter of time with this DA), you'll be glad that at least one judge is out there looking out for your constitutional rights.

Unknown said...

Well said, and absolutely right regarding The Honorable Joel Blumenfeld.

An unwaveringly fair and thorough jurist.

Trust me, I know FIRST HAND.

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