Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

Keep up to date with the latest Newspaper and Internet articles on this year's Brooklyn Surrogate Court race

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Let the voters choose the judges

New York Daily News July 5, 2005

The Court of Appeals last week booted Michael Feinberg, a Brooklyn Democratic scoundrel, from his post as the borough's surrogate judge for letting a lawyer pal siphon millions of dollars from the estates of the dead. Ah, sweet, slow justice.
The Daily News exposed Feinberg three years ago. It is satisfying that the high court has unanimously found him unfit for the bench. Now the issue arises: Who will fill Feinberg's place, as well as a second Brooklyn surrogate position just created by Gov. Pataki and the Legislature in an odious back-room deal?

Political parties use surrogate's court as a patronage trough because its judges get to appoint numerous lawyers, guardians and other estate specialists to paying positions. The Brooklyn organization is poised to keep the borough's two posts in the family.

Feinberg's spot will be filled by a primary this fall, but candidates have until only July 14 to collect signatures to get on the ballot. The party apparatus can get the job done for its favored candidate. Chairman Clarence Norman must not sabotage everyone else by challenging their petitions. The contest should be open to all comers.

Norman, who's facing trial on corruption charges, will get to handpick the second Brooklyn surrogate, thanks to Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. In the final minutes of the just-ended legislative session, they created 21 judgeships, delivering three into the hands of party bosses.

Those spots, one controlled by Norman, one by Bruno, who doubles as the Republican strongman in upstate Rensselaer, and one in Orange County's Family Court, should have been filled by the voters. But the capital's big three headed off that inconvenience by establishing the judgeships as of Aug. 1, when the Election Law says it's too late to organize a primary. In that event, the bosses rule.

And that's not all. When Albany creates judgeships, everyone grabs for a piece of the pie. This time around, Pataki got the okay to appoint 14 new Court of Claims judges, which is the regular practice, while party organizations in the Bronx, Queens and Westchester will pick four candidates for November judicial elections.

The biggest offense committed by the Albany trio was to deny primary voters a say over the new surrogate, who will serve 14 years, at a time when Chief Judge Judith Kaye is trying to promote confidence in judicial elections. Would-be surrogates with honor will run in the primary for the Feinberg seat. Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who is the party's likely choice for the unelected surrogate post, should be among them rather than tarnish his three decades of public service.

As for the tainted seat, Norman's only legitimate move would be to install someone who is 69 years old and who will have to retire next year, allowing then for a real open primary


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Keep up the good work i really like the blog. tell me, will there be any stories regarding the part you plan on playing in the selection of the next surrogate judge via your political consultant position.

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