Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Choices for surrogate

Daily News - Editorial Endorsement
Sept. 4, 2005

Democratic primary voters in Brooklyn and Manhattan have a rare opportunity to elect surrogates, the judges who oversee the estates of the dead - a mother lode of patronage spoils. The Daily News endorses Margarita Lopez Torres in Brooklyn and Kristen Booth Glen in Manhattan because they appear most likely to remain above cronyism.

Brooklyn Dems get to pick a surrogate because the Commission on Judicial Conduct bounced party hack Michael Feinberg from the bench for letting a pal siphon millions of dollars from dead people's estates - malfeasance that was exposed by this newspaper. The three contenders for the spot are Lopez Torres, a Civil Court judge, and Supreme Court Justices Larry Knipel and Diana Johnson.

Lopez Torres has demonstrated competence on the bench while warring with the Democratic organization, and she promises reforms like using either court staff or rotating private lawyers to handle probate work. So she gets the nod. Knipel, who gets high marks for legal ability, and Johnson promise to limit political influence on lucrative court appointments, but both played footsie with the party to get their judgeships. (Knipel's wife is a Democratic district leader, and his campaign is backed by two retired judges who both testified as character witnesses on behalf of the ousted Feinberg.)

In Manhattan, the decisive factor is also independence from the party. On that score, Glen, dean of the CUNY law school who has served on both the Civil and Supreme courts, tops Eve Rachel Markewich, a private estates lawyer. Until recently, Markewich was a Democratic district leader, and she is backed by party bosses.

Glen promises to bar from appointment all elected party leaders, district leaders, county committee members and club presidents. She should add judicial nominating convention delegates to the list, and, if victorious on Sept. 13, she and Lopez Torres must follow through on aggressive reforms.

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