John O’Hara (Andrew Denney/NYLJ)
Brooklyn attorney John O’Hara, the first person charged with illegal voting since 1873, when Susan B. Anthony cast a vote before women were legally allowed to do so, has over the past several years been reinstated to the bar and had his name cleared.
Now O’Hara is setting his sights on a new challenge: He wants to lead a slate of insurgent candidates to run this year in the Democratic primary for open seats on the bench in Brooklyn Civil Court.
“Better to be a judge than be judged,” said O’Hara, who said he could “bring a perspective to the bench that no one else brings.”
O’Hara, who was indicted on the illegal voting charge in 1996, was reinstated to the bar in 2009. His conviction was thrown out in January.
O’Hara and the other hopefuls on his slate are eschewing the endorsement of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which essentially enjoys one-party rule in the borough.
The party’s endorsed candidates for the seats are incumbent Civil Court Judges Frederick Arriaga, Robin Sheares, Carolyn Wade and attorneys Patria Frias-Colon, Connie Melendez and David Pepper.
O’Hara said he will file papers to become a candidate during the first week of June. He needs at least 4,000 valid signatures on a petition to get his slate on the ballot.
O’Hara said his slate will include Sandra Roper, who ran unsuccessfully for Brooklyn DA in 2001; four more candidates will be announced by June 1, he said.
Both O’Hara and Roper were both targets for prosecution by the Brooklyn DA during the administration of Charles Hynes, who ran the office from 1990 to 2013 before getting unseated by the late Kenneth Thompson.
Roper was indicted in 2003 on charges of stealing from a client, but the charges were later dropped.