February 7th the invitations went out for a Judicial Screening Panel I helped organize to interview and make recommendations on candidates for the election for judge in the 6th Municipal Court District.
In 2018 one of the current civil court judges for the 6th Municipal Court District will retire and there will be an election in November to replace him. The 6th MCD covers Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Roosevelt Island, and a portion of East Harlem. Since my district represents the bulk of the MCD, my co-leaders from the rest of the 76th Assembly District and I were the principal organizers of the panel to screen the candidates.
Traditionally the Democratic Party leaders for the Upper East Side have invited experts from bar associations around New York City to sit on a panel that will interview the candidates and make recommendations as to who are the most qualified. These candidates then run in the September primary for the Party's nomination. One reason that there are so few contested judge races in New York City is that the candidates who are not recommended by the panel typically drop out of the race. It's an imperfect process and leaves a lot of discretion to the party leaders and the local Democratic Clubs, and throughout the process I did everything possible to ensure the organizations represented on the panel were free of any bias and reflected the full breadth of expertise needed to evaluate a competent judge.
I made an effort to expand the list of participating organizations beyond traditional bar associations to include mission-driven non-profits, tenants' advocates, law schools, and legal aid societies. My hope is that these organizations will add new perspectives to the panel process and the three recommended candidates will be of exceptional quality as a result. The panel is expected to make its recommendations in April.