Nearly every year, judicial positions open up in Brooklyn, that require elections. All bona-fide political parties can nominate candidates. What used to happen in the past (1980's & 1990's especially), was that the two major contemporary political parties (Republicans and Democrats), generally made deals whereby there were trade-offs: with democrats dominating the process. This has lessened over time, but this year there is apparently some deal-making going on behind the scenes.
My sources tell me that there are three openings for the Supreme Court. They also say that there are two openings for the civil court. One of the civil court openings is county-wide; the other is for the First District: where I am told the incumbent is retiring. I am relying on my sources here since I do trust them in this area of Brooklyn's politics.
What is riling up many in this sphere is the fact that the Supreme Court has lost quite a few black male jurists in the last few years, and there is no apparent attempt to replace them with other black males, by the leadership of Kings County's democrats. I am told that three black males (Ted Jones, Bert Bunyan and Randy Jackson) have all retired from the bench. I am told that there is a tacit affirmative-action type of arrangement in Brooklyn, whereby when these things happen, the replacements are automatic: relative to race, nationality, religion and/or ethnicity. I am also told that this tacit arrangement has been in place for a long time now. I am told it is all about order, equilibrium, inclusion and empowerment.
To further understand all this, let me say that as far as many in the black community are concerned, the criminal courts often refuse to give young black males a second-chance to straighten out their lives. As such, many feel that it is because too many judges -especially the ones who aren't black- lack the needed compassion in dealing with black kids who break the law. Furthermore, there is a sense that they are rather insensitive to the historical dysfunction of the family settings, in which most of these black inner-city kids grow up. The feeling is that black judges (especially black-male ones) are more likely to take every mitigating factor into consideration, before sentencing black kids to long jail terms -especially when they are first time or second time offenders. These perceptions are pervasive in communities of color. That's why there is a distinct clamor for more black male teachers in the public-school system; and for more black male judges in the court system
I am told that some blacks have been pushing hard for Desmond Green and/or Johnny Baynes, to be elevated to the Supreme Court bench. Both are black. Both are male. Both are ambitious. Both have party support amongst democrats. I am also told that there has been push-back on these two selections.
Word is that Vito Lopez- the leader of the Kings County democrats- has appointed three district leaders (Darlene Mealy, Walter Moseley and Jesse Hamilton jnr.) to make the selections. I am also told that Jesse is pushing his wife for a judgeship. They are telling me that Jesse has some skeletons in his closet and that's why he is not pushing his own candidacy -something he had openly harbored for years. I don't know about skeletons and such, but I do know that there is a strong feeling that if Jesse Hamilton gets his wife in there, then that constitutes nepotism or favoritism or the like.
There is this sentiment -which has been around for quite some time now- that we should revamp the way we select judges in Brooklyn. I agree. It is time that elected officials explore new avenues for the selection of our judges in Kings County (and beyond). The current selection-mode is way too political and subject to much horse-trading, questionable machinations, interference and manipulation.
If my sources are correct, then it appears that of the three Supreme Court openings, one will be given to a male Italian (Landicino); another will be given to a male Jewish jurist; and the third to a Hispanic (female). Thus blacks (male and/or female) will be left out from the equation. Again, let me caution that I am working with unofficial information here. If this is all true, then the question becomes this: are judges ever selected based on experience, brilliance, merit and/or temperament.
One female who is interested in running for a civil court spot, is a Trinidad-born lady named Cheryl Gonzales. She is currently on the bench of the Housing Court. She was educated at Hunter College and later graduated from Brooklyn Law. She has been a lawyer for about two decades.
This black lady (Ms. Gonzales) has been approved twice before (as qualified) by various selection committees: one of which happens to be the Office of Court Administration (OCA). She has been the president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. I wish her luck in her run.
I also wish Desmond Green good luck since he is truly one fine gentleman. I have known him and his family for about 20 years now. His father was a former City Marshall who operated out of an office on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights. Mr. Baynes is someone I have met before, but I don't know him anywhere as well as I know Mr. Green. However, some of the people who are vouching for Baynes now, are folks who have been involved in Brooklyn's politics for many years: people I do respect.
Stay tuned-in folks.