Brooklyn’s family court will now benefit from a new high-tech courtroom, which will permit remote sharing of evidence, videoconferencing, and remote court interpreting.
This is a wonderful thing. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle story explains:
“This automation is overcoming barriers,” Dr. William Bell, whose organization Casey Family Programs helped pay for the ICT part in Brooklyn, said. “Barriers of language and barriers of location. Even though [someone] may be incarcerated, they can participate in a hearing about their child’s future. That is barrier that has far too long been nearly insurmountable. The fact is that we no longer have to bring people into this courtroom in chains in front of their children in order for them to have a say in their child’s life.”
Kudos to the court system for initiating these updates. (If only they could do something about the clunky, formal name for the courtroom: The Kings County Integrated Courtroom Technology Part. How about something a little snappier?)
This blog has been closely following the Democratic primary elections for county judge in Brooklyn, New York, where voters were forced to choose between candidates approved by the Democratic party machine and a group of “insurgents” running on an independent slate. The election took place earlier this month, and the results are … flabbergasting.
Continue reading “Brooklyn judicial elections take an even more dismaying turn”
Typically, critiques of money and judicial politics focus on the concern that donors to judicial campaigns will expect favors from a judge after election, compromising the judge’s impartiality. In a bizarre twist, the Buffalo News reports on a judicial candidate who is spending her donors’ contributions on other, unrelated campaigns:
When local attorneys, business people and others donated a record amount of money to Acea M. Mosey’s campaign fund, they knew they were giving money to an experienced lawyer and Democratic Party stalwart running for Erie County Surrogate Court judge.
What they may not have known is that some of their donations – at least $33,393 – would go to political parties, political organizations and seekers of a wide variety of other political offices, including candidates for Congress, Erie County sheriff, the mayor of Buffalo and chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.
Mosey’s campaign organization, Mosey for Surrogate committee, this year has given money – either in donations or expenditures – to a total of 167 political candidates, parties and organizations, according to a Buffalo News analysis of state Elections Board records.
Mosey, by the way, has raised $900,000 for her judicial election campaign even though she is running unopposed.
Here is a remarkable article on the Opiate Crisis Intervention Court in New York, presided over by Judge Craig Hannah. The court hears a variety of cases involving parties with opiate addiction, with an emphasis on getting them treatment. It’s a great example of state courts structuring themselves in creative ways to respond to social needs.
In June, a reporter in the Syracuse, New York area was briefly handcuffed by courthouse security after he took pictures of individuals involved in a hallway altercation. The court had generally prohibited photographing and video recording activities in court hallways, but made an exception for the media.
The reporter was freed after a few minutes and not charged, but court administrators are now requiring all security officers in the six-county area to undergo training on working with journalists as well as proper arrest procedure. This appears to have been an isolated incident, but it is good to see the court system acknowledging the problem and working proactively with its officers to maintain the proper balance between security and transparency.
I have previously discussed the candidacies of five Brooklyn residents who are running for judge, but refuse to go through the selection system dominated by Democratic Party bosses. In the latest twist in the story, a spokesman for the five candidates has accused local party boss Frank Seddio of hosting a “illegal” fundraiser for the party’s preferred candidates on August 23.
Surely some of this is an effort to stay in the news cycle, but the accusations of spokesman Gary Tilzer are still damning:
Seddio, an attorney, sent the red, white and blue invite to more than 185 people — including sitting judges, judicial candidates, attorneys, developers, politicians, lobbyists and members of the Judicial Screening Committee. The invite vaguely touts fund-raising “to support our contested countywide candidates.”
It doesn’t specify the candidates who will benefit or the election that’s involved.
Guests were instructed to write their $500 to $5,000 checks out to the Kings County Democratic County Committee, an account that’s controlled by the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and mail them to Seddio’s home address, according to the letter.
Tilzer’s three-page letter to the committees said Seddio’s fund-raising efforts violate the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and are unethical on seven points, including not disclosing who the event benefits, inviting sitting judges to contribute and, since the beneficiaries aren’t named, having judicial candidates raising money with potential nonjudicial candidates.
As I have noted before, those who are truly concerned about the influence of money in politics might want to start by shining a light on local hornet’s nests like these.