NYC Corporation Counsel Backs Judge KayeOn Judicial Candidate Qualifications

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 01:00

The New York City Law Department has endorsed the recent call by New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye for quick implementation of the Feerick Commission's recommendations on qualifications for judicial election candidates in the state.

In her State of the Judiciary address last month, Judge Kaye, noting Feerick Commission reports since 2003 and the recent declaration by U.S. District Judge John Gleason that current nominating conventions for New York State Supreme Court judges are unconstitutional, said, "I believe that the Feerick Commission recommendations should go forward, because they promise immediate improvement."

Judge Kaye noted, "Instead of primaries, the Commission has recommended statutory change that would result in a complete overhaul of the judicial district nominating convention system, including smaller conventions with a reduced number of delegates; longer terms for delegates to promote independence; more time and candidate information provided to delegates; reduced petitioning requirements for nomination as a delegate; and a statutory right of candidates to address the delegates at their conventions."

The Feerick Commission, Judge Kaye said, has determined that the current convention system fosters a public perception that delegates only rubber-stamp political party choices without thinking independently.

In her State of the Judiciary address, Judge Kaye said that the New York Court of Appeals had approved rules for establishing a statewide system of judicial qualification commissions for all candidates for elective judicial office. These commissions would offer assurance to the public that all candidates for judgeships are qualified for the posts.

"Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the Court of Appeals are absolutely correct in calling for the creation of judicial qualification commissions," said Michael A. Cardozo, corporation counsel for New York City. "In fact, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recommended the creation of these commissions when he testified before the Feerick Commission two and a half years ago. Mayor Bloomberg has been urging this reform ever since, most recently during his State of the City address."