In the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, the New York City Bar Association and a bar group that advocates for LGBT lawyers have released their ratings for judicial candidates running for the bench in the five boroughs.
Of the 66 judges running for seats in the city’s supreme, civil and Surrogate’s courts, 27 received “Not Approved” ratings from the city bar.
Candidates who did not receive “Approved” ratings from the city bar include State Assemblyman Ronald Castorina Jr., a Republican who is running against Democratic state Assemblyman Matthew Titone, for Surrogate’s Court judge on Staten Island; and acting Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Harriet Thompson, who is running unopposed for Surrogate’s Court judge in Brooklyn.
Additionally, 13 of the 17 candidates running for seats on the state Supreme Court in the Bronx received “Not Approved” ratings; it gave “Approved” ratings to Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann Brigantti, acting Supreme Court Justice Julio Rodriguez, and Civil Court Judges Llinet Rosado and Marsha Michael.
Titone received an “Approved” rating from the city bar, as did former Brooklyn prosecutor and one-time district attorney candidate Anne Swern, who is running unopposed for Civil Court judge; and Justices Sylvia Hinds-Radix and Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, who sit on the bench in the Appellate Division, Second Department.
The city bar’s judiciary committee assesses candidates based on a wide array of criteria, including integrity, temperament and intellectual prowess, but does not comment on the details behind its ratings for individual candidates. Sources with knowledge of the process said candidates who don’t show up for their interviews with the committee get “Not Approved” ratings.
The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL) interviewed 31 candidates and gave only one candidate, Castorina, a “Not Approved” rating, but it takes a different approach in rating candidates: it gives a “Highly Approved” rating to what it sees as exceptional candidates, such as Hinds-Radix, and notes when candidates fail to appear for their interviews.
In a news release, LeGaL said it assesses candidates on their temperament and integrity, as well as their commitment to ensuring equality of rights for LGBT people.
“The communities that LeGaL serves depend on fair and impartial courts to ensure access to justice for LGBT people,” said Eric Lesh, LeGaL’s executive director. “The work of our Jjudiciary committee is a vital component to reducing bias, improving fair outcomes, and engendering trust in the courts and legal system.”
Ratings for judicial candidates from the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission can be viewed here.
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