Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Feldman Returns to Vito's 2008 Judicial Convention

Jeff Feldman seated on the end, helping to run the September 16, 2008 Brooklyn Judicial Delegate Convention.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Judicial Conventions are bad, declaring that ...
“The Constitution Does Not Prohibit
Legislatures From Enacting Stupid Laws.”

New York Times Editorial January 17, 2008
A Defeat for Judicial Reform

By upholding New York’s machine-dominated system for selecting judges, the Supreme Court has dealt another setback to voters. The court has once again allowed political bosses to rig elections in ways that deny voters a meaningful role. New York’s political power brokers are no doubt cheering, but they should not be allowed to triumph. Even if New York’s method of selecting judges is constitutional, it remains unfair and undemocratic. It needs to be replaced.

New York State Supreme Court justices — who despite their titles are trial-level judges — are selected through a byzantine process. Primary voters select judicial delegates, who then meet in party conventions to choose their nominees. The conventions are generally controlled by political bosses, who often steer the nominations to candidates who deliver patronage back to the party machine. It’s a disgraceful way to choose judges. They are supposed to be above politics.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Feldman Says Party Boss Pressured Judge to Hire Vendor

Clarence Norman Jr.’s former second-in-command in the Brooklyn Democratic Party testified yesterday that he saw his boss angrily threaten to withhold support for a judge on his ticket in 2002 if she refused to pay for fliers designed by the party’s favored vendor.

Jeffrey Feldman, a former official in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, testified Thursday against his former boss, Clarence Norman Jr.
Mr. Norman, in the fourth corruption trial against him in two years, is accused of strong-arming two judicial candidates into paying his cronies thousands of dollars. His former lieutenant, Jeffrey Feldman, the party’s longtime executive director, was originally charged along with Mr. Norman, but charges against him were dropped when he agreed to testify for prosecutors.
-NY Times, Feb., 2. 2007

"A judge yesterday sentenced disgraced Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman to one to three years behind bars for shaking down a judicial candidate.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus also ordered "King of Brooklyn" Norman to pay back $10,000 he coerced from former civil-court judge Karen Yellen, $1,000 of which went to a fellow politician and $9,000 to pay a favored get-out-the-vote operative." New York Post, April 17, 2007

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Feldman is A Big Part of Judge Gleason's Decision to Do Away With Judicial Conventions

"Rebuking Party Leaders, Court Halts System of Picking Judges
A federal judge yesterday struck down the system that has given state political party leaders a stranglehold over the way top trial judges across New York State have been elected for decades.

In a decision that could have a lasting impact on the judicial selection process across the state, the judge, John Gleeson of the United States District Court in Brooklyn, found the system unconstitutional and ordered it halted immediately.

Judge Gleeson barred the State Board of Elections and Republican and Democratic Party officials from the practice of selecting candidates for State Supreme Court justice at sharply controlled nominating conventions that some critics said effectively robbed voters of their say in who made it to the bench. He ordered that they instead hold primaries until state lawmakers pass legislation setting up a new system." - NY TIMES - January 28, 2006

Feldman: "No such list existed “anywhere in the world"
From Judge Gleason Decision:“

Concededly, there is not a rich history of challenger candidates even attempting to make their case to the delegates selected by the party leaders. But plaintiff Margarita López Torres has tried it, and her experience in the Second District does not bode well for other such candidates, especially those who deign to run slates of judicial delegates against those fielded by the party leadership. Beginning in March of 2003, López Torres wrote repeatedly to the Kings County Democratic County Committee to learn three basic things: (1) the date, time and place of the convention; (2) the names of the delegates, so she could lobby them; and (3) whether she could address the delegates at the convention. She did not hear from its Executive Director, Jeffrey C. Feldman, until September 4, 2003, after she once again requested the information.

Feldman’s response is difficult to reconcile with the defendants’ gauzy characterizations of a democratic process open to all party members who seek the office of Supreme Court Justice. He began by mocking the request for a list of delegates to lobby: “I erroneously believed that a learned jurist, such as yourself, would be well aware that Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the Democratic Judicial Convention stand for independent election in the Primary Election, yet to be held.”

No such list existed “anywhere in the world,” Feldman helpfully added. Id. As for López Torres’s inquiry about addressing the convention, Feldman wrote as follows: “I suffer from the innocent belief that the floor of the Convention is open, only, to elected Delegates and their successors. I am not aware of any Convention in my thirty (30) years of attendance, which permitted a non-accredited member to be accorded the privilege of the floor ....” Id. In closing, Feldman “note[d] for the record that” López-Torres’s fax machine was “in violation of Federal Communications Commission regulations” and admonished her to bring it into compliance. Id.

He then chastised her for mailing him so many (unanswered) letter requests, and spending “copious sums in postage from, presumably, your political committee.” Id. In sum, lobbying judicial convention delegates and alternates is not a realistic route to a nomination even for diligent candidates if they lack the support of party leaders. “

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brooklyn District Attorney says the Supreme Court Election System Corrupts

Charles Hynes: Amicus Curiae Brief in Judge Lopez Torres vs. NYS Board of Elections:
“New York’s uniquely constructed and statutorily- mandated nominating process for the state Supreme Court, which in effect places ultimate control over who becomes a state Supreme Court justice in the hands of powerful county political party leaders, creates and sustains a breeding ground for corruption and malfeasance and undermines the public’s confidence in the judiciary.

Under the current system, Party leaders select Supreme Court Nominees based on their political connections and/or contributions to the party or its leaders; voters lack any meaningful opportunity to nominate, let alone elect, an alternative candidate to those nominees; and, once elected, the judges (desiring to be renominated and reelected or, in the case of lower-court judges, desiring to be promoted to the Supreme Court) come under great pressure to carry out their duties in a manner that satisfied party leaders. The result is a system in which only party-chosen candidates attain the Supreme Court and in which public confidence in the administration of justice and the rules of law is low.”
U.S. Supreme Court Briefs in Support of Respondents

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Charges Against Feldman Stand, Will He Talk?

"The Appellate Division, Second Department, gave the go-ahead last week for a trial of the most serious charge against former Brooklyn Democratic leader Clarence Norman and Jeffrey Feldman, the executive director of the Brooklyn party. The pair are accused of pressuring two Civil Court candidates to use favored vendors in their 2002 campaigns. Both Mr. Norman and Mr. Feldman had asked the trial judge, Acting Justice Martin Marcus, to dismiss the case, claiming in their omnibus motions that the indictment did not charge a crime. Only Mr. Feldman, however, asked the Second Department for a writ of prohibition barring the trial from proceeding. In denying the request, a unanimous court in an unsigned opinion stated that Mr. Feldman had failed to demonstrate a "clear legal right" to have the charge rejected."
New York Law Journal, November 30, 2005

"Words will not ever be able to express my sorrow and my profound regret for all my actions and mistakes. I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I've wronged or caused to suffer. I plead guilty, your honor” (Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, January 3, 2006). According to the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 9 1/2 to 11 years, providing he cooperates with federal prosecutors.”

Jeff Feldman, Executive Director of the Kings County Democratic Club, and chief advisor to County Leader Clarence Norman is facing the toughest decision of his life.

If he hasn’t done it already, within a few days or hours, Jeff will have to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Abramoff and bargain for a reduced jail sentence or to hang tough and hope for a miracle.

Tampering with judicial elections through Bribery and Extortion is not an offense that escapes with just a token punishment. In fact, there may have been enough basis for a Federal RICO probe which considered conspiracy charges against Clarence, Jeff, and even Professor Boonie III.

Setting an excruciatingly painful example is evidently the only way to deter those who are intent on making a profit out of the Judicial system. So even with a reduced sentence, Jeff is likely to do at least 4 years in prison. But on the other hand, a conviction after trial could land him in the slammer for twice as many years.

According to reports, Jeff has retained one of the top criminal lawyers in the United States at the kind of fee which usually requires taking out a mortgage on a home. Attorney Branfman is a blue-blood lawyer usually retained by the rich and famous like Michael Jackson. - Footnotes, January 4, 2006

Friday, January 9, 2004

Indicted Democratic Leader Swears In Brooklyn Judge

"Jeffrey Feldman, the executive director of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, presided over the swearing in ceremony Tuesday of Martin M. Solomon, a Civil Court judge who was elected to the Supreme Court in November. A recent series of indictments and Commission on Judicial Conduct findings against several Brooklyn judges has led to intense scrutiny of the ties between politics and the judiciary in the borough. Both Mr. Feldman and Brooklyn Democratic leader, Assemblyman Clarence Norman, have been indicted on charges of pressuring judicial candidates to hire favored vendors for their campaigns. Justice Solomon, through a spokesman, said he had no comment. On Monday, Mr. Feldman and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes crossed paths at the swearing in of ShawnDya Simpson, who had been an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn before her election to the Civil Court. Judge Simpson, who had party backing, thanked both Mr. Feldman and Mr. Norman at the ceremony, a source said. Judge Simpson could not be reached for comment yesterday." -- Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal, January 9, 2004

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Feldman Indicted Extorting Money From Judge Yellen

"Mr. Feldman demanded that unless both candidates paid $10,000 for an effort to get out the vote on primary day, all party workers would be pulled off operations on the judges' behalf.

Ms. Yellen ultimately paid $9,000 for the get-out-the-vote effort shortly after the primary, according to prosecutors, because she felt that she had a political obligation to do so. Judge Sikowitz never paid for the campaign effort because she did not raise enough funds to make the payment, they said."
Law Journal, November 19, 2003

"The mistake of Messrs. Feldman and Norman was to assume that duly elected judges, some with a decade or more on the Brooklyn bench, need not be exempted from this formula. Thus the meetings listed in the indictment, in which funds were demanded, threats issued, and sitting judges rudely informed of just where they stood in the pecking order."
New York Sun, Novermber 19, 2003