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

For Cleaner Courts in Brooklyn

New York Times -- Editorial Endorsement
Sept. 4, 2005
Two critical contests on the Sept. 13 Democratic primary ballot in Brooklyn - for district attorney and for a Surrogate's Court judgeship - offer voters a chance to register their disgust with the cozy clubhouse-courthouse ties that lie at the heart of the borough's judicial patronage and corruption scandal, and the undue influence of Clarence Norman's local Democratic machine. Together, these races amount to a referendum on cleaning up the local political and justice system.

Surrogate's Court

There are two Surrogate's Court seats to be filled this fall in Brooklyn. But voters in the Sept. 13 primary have been granted a say in filling only one - the vacancy created in June when the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, took the rare step of removing Surrogate Michael Feinberg, a Democratic clubhouse stalwart, for doling out excessive fees to the crony he appointed to deal with the estates of those who died without leaving a will. In a disgraceful backroom deal, Albany recently created a second judgeship and timed it so that party regulars, not voters, would get to choose the candidate who will appear on the sure-to-win Democratic line in November.

These shenanigans make it all the more important to choose a candidate of proven independence from those who have long treated the Surrogate's Court as their personal cookie jar. Of the three candidates, only one fits the bill - Margarita Lopez Torres. A veteran Civil Court judge, Ms. Torres would start on Day 1 of her tenure to reorganize the court to serve the people as it is meant to.

Her rivals in the race, Supreme Court Justices Diana Johnson and Lawrence Knipel, are smart, competent and pledge reform. But their close ties to the clubhouse do not bode well for achieving the necessary clean break. We enthusiastically endorse Ms. Lopez Torres.

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