To the editor:
(re: “Need to learn more on judges,” March 4)
I am writing in response to Ms. Leslie Hogan’s letter to the editor commenting on your Nov. 19 story, “Voters not too excited to choose county court judges.”
She indicated that the story left her “wanting to see an in-depth story about judgeships.” In recent weeks, and during the current petitioning period, I have heard similar questions from neighbors in the Bronx.
I began collecting signatures from residents on the west side of the Bronx in an attempt to get on the ballot for civil court judge for the primary scheduled for June 22.
The Second Municipal Court district covers the entire northwest Bronx, down to the southern tip of the borough in Mott Haven. Some of the comments I’ve received from registered Democrats as I seek their permission to allow me access to the ballot for the June Democratic primary is one that shows similar frustrations and concerns expressed by Ms. Hogan.
Some have even expressed surprise at meeting me at their door as I make my case to earn their support and future vote. They have indicated that they did not know judges could be elected, and not knowing how judges even get on the ballot.
Ms. Hogan asked how are judges selected. Judges in criminal and family court are appointed by the mayor through the merit-based selection and a multi-layered committee review. The mayor appoints members to a commission on judicial selection, and candidates are thoroughly vetted before the appointment.
Those judges serving in the civil court (where the value of the conflict does not exceed $50,000 within the five boroughs) are elected to 10-year terms. Judges elevated to the supreme court (for a 14-year term) are selected by judicial convention where delegates (voted in by the electorate, and currently being circulated in the green petitions you might see at petitioning time) make the decisions on behalf of the electorate of who gets nominated to those positions.
In terms of voter involvement, it is civil court judges that are most affected by a large voter bloc making that choice.
These judges are elected in a partisan race, once candidates go through a primary (but only if there are two or more candidates for the party nomination).
Because the Bronx is a heavily Democratic county, a win at the Democratic primary is a certain win in November. It is therefore important to find out who the candidates are for the June primary to make an informed selection.
I welcome any of your readers or their friends to connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss judges further. I’d be happy to host town halls to meet anyone who wants to learn more about the process.
Thanks to the access to information at our fingertips, we can learn so much more about the candidates today than before. I invite you to check me out at my website, YGT4BronxJudge.com, where I have more information on the roles of each court, and the expectations for judges assigned to each.
The author is a civil court judge candidate for the June 22 primary.