Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Working too hard? Take a seat.

Albany Times Union - Friday, July 1, 2005

Friday, July 1, 2005

The hasty creation of a second Rensselaer County Court judgeship last week as the legislative session ended set jaws a-flapping across the river, where political conspiracy theories abound. The most popular hypothesis is that the post will serve as a rather transparent escape hatch for beleaguered county District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis.

DeAngelis, 36, is under fire for a series of criminal reversals that brought stinging slaps from the state Supreme Court Appellate Division. She also faces a lawsuit from an ex-colleague claiming breaches of ethical -- and possibly legal -- practices in the DA's office.

Chief among the gripes was DeAngelis' agreement to pay former employee Katrin Ellis, the niece of an ex-county chairman, $61,500 a year while she attended college across from the Troy courthouse.

A complaint listing this and other allegations will soon be filed by former Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sober, 35, according to Sober's lawyer, Cheryl Coleman.

Thanks, but who asked you?

The judgeship bill, introduced at the request of Gov. George Pataki, includes new state Supreme Court posts in New York City, family court benches in Orange County, and a new surrogate's court job in Kings County.

There are also 14 new seats on the Court of Claims, which handles cases brought against the state. These judgeships, with their nine-year terms and $136,700 paychecks, are highly sought after. They're patronage plums because Court of Claims judges are appointed and don't ever have to run for election.

Pataki spokesman Kevin Quinn said the 21 new judgeships were created based on need. He said the state Office of Court Administration was consulted. Au contraire, says Inside Politics.

"OCA and the courts always welcome additional resources, although this was not requested by OCA," OCA spokesman David Bookstaver said.

The new spot on the Rensselaer County bench doesn't exist until Aug. 1 -- past the primary petitions deadline -- so political parties will nominate candidates to run in November.

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