DOCUMENT DROP : Judicial screening panel members indicate they may electorally support Justice Doris Ling-Cohan after all

By LOUIS FLORES

Fifteen members of the judicial screening panel of the Manhattan Democratic County Committee have written a letter in support of the reëlection of the Hon. New York Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan.

The single-sentence letter, dated 11 September 2016, stated that the signatories believed that the Hon. "Judge Ling-Cohan merits continuation in office." A copy of the letter was obtained by Progress Queens and was posted online at Archive.org.

Some advocates believe that the letter provides some certainty that when Democrats gather for the judicial convention on 22 September, party officials will nominate the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan, but Her Honor will still need to win sufficient support from convention delegates, a necessary move to guarantee Her Honor a place on the November general election ballot.

The newfound support for the reëlection of the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan follows the outbreak of controversy over an earlier 12-10 decision by the same judicial screening panel to withdraw electoral support from the incumbent judge. In New York, justices who serve on the New York Supreme Court must be elected, and, in Manhattan, judicial candidate for the New York Supreme Court are pre-screened by the judicial review panel.

The process used by the Manhattan Democratic County Committee was described as "deeply flawed" by the journalist Andy Humm in a report he filed for Gay City News, adding that the process had sparked malicious anonymous leaks to the tabloid press.

The reversal in Manhattan overlooks the failure of members of the judicial screening panel of the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee to restore electoral support to the Hon. New York Supreme Court Justice Laura Jacobson. In a process that had echos of the treatment first rendered to the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan, the Hon. Judge Jacobson has had to endure a seeming campaign of embarassing tabloid press reports about the withdrawal of electoral support by the Brooklyn judicial screening panel.

The Hon. Judge Jacobson retained an attorney and filed a lawsuit against Brooklyn Democratic Party officials over the flawed process Her Honor claimed to have been put through. The Brooklyn Democratic County Committee is chaired by Frank Seddio. Past chairs have included Meade Esposito, former Assemblymember Clarence Norman (D-Crown Heights) and the now late, former Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Bushwick).

The Manhattan Democratic County Committee is chaired by Assemblymember Keith Wright (D-Harlem), who faced calls for his resignation if Manhattan Democrats didn't reverse their decision on the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan.

Because each of the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan and the Hon. Judge Jacobson have handed down Court orders and judgments that have run contrary to the business interests of important Democratic Party officials or donors, advocates for judicial independence have questioned whether judicial screening panels were evaluating judges based on self-interests as opposed to the public interest.

Last week, a report broadcast by WNYC 93.9 FM raised questions about the independence of the judicial selection process in the wake of the controversy surrounding the initial treatment given to the Hon. Judge Ling-Cohan.

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