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