Brooklyn Judicial Screening Chairman Speaks
September 27, 2007
Martin Edelman, chair of the Judicial Screening Committee for Kings and Suffolk counties, said today he believes it’s a violation of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s own rules for party leaders to support candidates who either don’t come before the committee for a review or are deemed unqualified.
“Based on my understanding of the rule, the chairman and members of the executive committee should not be endorsing judicial candidates who are not on the list of approved candidates,” Edelman told the DN. “It? unfortunate if the chair or the executive committee would endorse a candidate not on the list. As for other district leaders, in my opinion the rules should be clarified on whether or not is appropriate for an individual district leader to endorses a judicial candidate not approved by the screening committee.”
Edelman noted that this question became an issue this fall in the Civil Court primary that pitted former Civil Court Judge Karen Yellen against former Councilman Noach Dear after the candidate who was screened and recommended by the committee, Charles Finkelstein, dropped out.
Neither Yellen nor Dear asked to be considered by the committee, Edelman said, and thus neither the party nor any of its leaders, according to his interpretation of its rules, should not have endorsed them.
The executive committee did not formally back Dear, but Party Chairman Vito Lopez did, as did a number of other elected leaders including, most surprisingly, Dear’s longtime nemesis, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Lopez is, of course, both a DL and chairman, but Edelmen said he didn’t think a distinction should be made.
Edelman, who is an enrolled Democrat but not a member of the Brooklyn Democratic Party (he has an office in the borough but lives in Manhattan), stressed that he has no control over what the party does and noted its leaders are the final arbiters of how the rules are interpreted.
Noting that it takes approximately six months to complete the screening process, Edelman also said he would support a “clarification” that would require the party to support candidates screened by the committee and not ignore its recommendations. He also insisted that the committee doesn’t have the authority to screen Surrogate Court candidates, and suggested a party rule change would be in order here as well.
Councilman Lew Fidler said he doesn’t believe it’s possible to bar individual members of any organization from supporting any candidate they see fit, calling this “a First Amendment issue.”
“I know that I personally take that position and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Fidler said. “But I think the party rules can only govern the actions of the party, not its members.”
Fidler noted that the changes adopted by the party Monday as recommended by the blue ribbon panel (but not yet formally codified in its rules) call for all candidates for elected judicial office to be screened going forward. The panel’s tenth recommendation also states:
“In order for the screening panel to have any respect, it is essential that the executive committee respects the determination and role of the panel. It would be wholly counter-productive for the executive committee to act in contravention of the penel’s fundings.”
September 27, 2007
Filder talks reform and always supports the county chooice regardless of what happens in the screening panel.
Can anyone with an IQ over 50 explain what Fidler quote means: "But I think the party rules can only govern the actions of the party, not its members."
Double speak to protect Vito's ASS
I know Fidler and Fidler is machine bought and sold.
Fidler is an expert at getting his name in the paper talking reform. He told several reporters 2 years ago ( after Judge Lopez Torres won the Surrogate seat) that the Blue Ribon committee would clean up the process at that time.
And Edelman was on the screening committee in 2005 that interview Lopez-Torres, Knipel and Johnson for Surrogate Judge. Where is there a statutory law that says a screening panel can or cannot interview a judicial candidate, it is all made up, like everything else Vito and company does
Vito told several reporters during the summer that the Surrogate opening occured 2 late to go before the screening panel.
All Vito and the machine which includes the screening panel have left is there pathetic lying spin.