Friday, October 15, 2010

The Flacks Report [15 Oct. 10]

Moulton Named Supervising Judge---A Precis on This Year’s Manhattan Judicial Convention---A Short Humorous Piece on Judges Salaries and Outside Jobs---New Interim Civil Court Judges—Marian Schuman, R.I.P.
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Moulton Named Supervising Judge

Civil Court Judge and Acting Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Moulton becomes the supervising judge of the N.Y. County Civil Court starting next month. He replaces Jeffrey Oing, who was nominated for State Supreme Court at last month’s judicial convention.

This Year’s Manhattan Judicial Convention

Here is a precis on this year’s Manhattan (N.Y. County) judicial nominating convention. (An amplified article will be published in The Flacks Report later this year.)

Alan Flacks Reports to the Three Parks Independent Democrats:

First Judicial District Convention Results for 2010

Cynthia Kern, Jeffrey Oing, and Matthew Cooper were designated at the Sept. 21, 2010, Democratic First Judicial District (Manhattan) nominating convention to fill three vacancies on the State Supreme Court trial bench. They were among the twelve lower court N.Y.C. Civil Court judges who were considered by the delegates.

As chair of this year’s delegation from the 69th Assembly District, I am sad to report that there was no actual vote (as opposed to prior conventions) because the convention was orchestrated “Soviet style.” By the night of the convention--after a week or more of “horse trading”--the three leading candidates were Kern, Oing, and Cooper who had a majority of the delegates pledged to them. What followed was a “dog-and-pony” show: all twelve panel-screened candidates were nominated; each had a nominating and seconding speech; then each spoke briefly, and nine withdrew in favor of Kern, Oing, and Cooper. Those nine were: Saliann Scarpulla, Ellen Gesmer, Debra James, Analisa Torres, Anil Singh, Deborah Kaplan, Arthur Engoron, George Silver, and Manuel Jacobo Mendez Olivero.

Three candidates (Kern, Scarpulla, and Gesmer) were found “most highly qualified” by two prior screening panels and placed their names before the convention this year. The nine “most highly qualified” of the nineteen applicants this year, in order of the panel vote, were James, Torres, Oing, Singh, Kaplan, Cooper, Engoron, Silver, and Mendez.

The real-politic was that County Leader Keith Wright was not a “player” this year as his candidates failed to win, place, or show. Oing was backed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Cooper was pushed by Jerrold Nadler. And Kern had the support of Tom Duane.

A Short Humorous Piece on Judges Salaries and Outside Jobs. By Emily Jane Goodman

Just when we hapless judges who haven't had a pay raise or cost of living increase for a dozen years, were giving up hope, we've been granted some relief. New York's chief judge has lifted the almost total ban on members of the judiciary earning outside income.

We've had some limited rights -- an honorarium for a lecture at a public institution, let's say, or performing a wedding ceremony for a maximum of $100 -- but there has been zero tolerance for toiling for pay in the private sector, albeit on our own time. Even Judge Judy had to leave the bench to become "Judge Judy."

Even if our salaries (which range from $119,000 to $136,700 -- and yes, our $5,000 expense stipend was doubled this year) are higher than those of most Americans, they're far lower than first-year lawyers who haven't yet been admitted to the Bar. And it really smarts to be ranked 50th in the nation for judicial compensation. Lifting the ban is a real game changer even if we still cannot practice law -- which is pretty much all we know how to do.

Still, I'm not tempted to copy the judge who back in the '70s protested the stagnant compensation of that era by selling hot dogs at the old Yankee Stadium. I don't do outdoor work.

As I started my search, I discovered that all the good jobs are listed online. I'm hardly computer savvy and job applicants must be fluent in HTML, Unicode and Photoshop.

Yet, how can I explain on computer forms or to interviewers what I've been doing for the last 25-plus years? I can't say I've been home raising children all that time. Or that I've been in jail. Or even rehab. So how about bartending?

Admittedly I have no experience, but I'm pretty sure that if I could memorize the Uniform Commercial Code, I could master the secrets of a dirty martini. Waiting to meet a friend, I did inquire at one Greenwich Village spot, but was told I'm too short. Too short? I wondered if that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Probably not because it seems that when they talk about "top shelf" liquor, they really mean top shelf -- which I couldn't reach.

A couple of the few remaining small stores in my Manhattan neighborhood have signs in English and Spanish seeking salespeople with retail experience. I do have a great deal of retail experience, but it's all been on the purchasing end.

Further down Broadway, the marquee at the multiplex announces, "We are always hiring... ." But the computer application had little boxes asking date of birth beginning with 1985. That meant if I was actually hired to sell or collect tickets, or dish out tubs of popcorn, I'd be taking the job from an unemployed teenager or student. So I did not press "Send."

Next I thought of Filene's Basement. I could walk to work on Saturdays and Sundays, without interfering with my day job, and save my minimum hourly wage. But one of my colleagues chastised me, saying that would be very demeaning to her. Well, then, how about the perfume counter at Saks? More upscale, but they're not hiring until the holiday season.

Still looking, I called a friend who, while serving as a judge for about 20 years, has kept active the taxi driver's license he used while in law school 40 years ago. Judges driving cabs has been a prohibited activity, but all that's changed now. Unfortunately for me, though, that license is one piece of paper I never got.

A job at Barnes & Noble would satisfy my craving for books, but could it put me into the middle of a proxy fight? Teaching would seem a natural option and I did apply to teach an undergraduate college course. I wasn't even considered, since the other piece of paper I do not have is a Ph.D.

I won't be selling hot dogs. But I can now sell my fascinating life story to a television network; I can safely deposit any advance for my book on marriage and divorce; maybe even appear in commercials as a judge of whatever's being advertised. Or if JLo backs out, perhaps I can be a judge on American Idol. After all, it's only one night a week and it pays well. The rest of the time I'll be working for the public, dispensing justice at the county courthouse.
Emily Jane Goodman is a state Supreme Court justice in New York County. She frequently writes about the law. This originally appeared in the Albany, N.Y., on 1st Oct., 2010.

New Interim Civil Court Judges

Mayor Mike appointed four interim Civil Court judges in Manhattan to serve until year’s end: Fernando Silva, Joanne Quinones (who used to clerk for Matt Cooper), Charles Troia, and John Zoll. The hearing by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary took but 20 minutes. The wonder is why Hiz Honor would appoint people now to serve for just a few months.

Marian Schuman R.I.P.

Marian Schuman Was Always There for C.F.D.
By Joan Paylo

Marian Schuman, a founding member of Community Free Democrats and a loyal member for more than 40 years, passed away on Saturday after a long and valiant battle with cancer. A memorial service was held on September 26th, 2010.

A CFD Board Member, Marian was one of the recipients of the first Ivan Merber Outstanding Member Award at CFD's gala 30th Anniversary Dinner in 2000.

Although she began her career as a creative textile designer, Marian found a second calling at the Board of Elections, where her penchant for detail made her an invaluable employee. She brought the same perseverance, curiosity and energy to our club in so many ways. She particularly took responsibility for running club endorsement and elections procedures. Year after year, she ran for and won the position of Judicial Delegate, which she took seriously.

Marian believed in supporting her beliefs with action and was a strong addition to any peace or human rights march that CFD participated in. Of course she was a relentless petitioner, rabidly supporting candidates she believed in. In the past few years, she helped out in Assemblymember Rosenthal's office, answering phones and facilitating constituent services.

Marian stood up for what she believed in and wasn't afraid to speak out for issues and people. Although she could be relentless, she also had a great sense of irony and humor about herself. She loved to laugh.

In her last years and after her first bout with a pre-cancerous condition, Marian decided she would allow herself to enjoy life a bit more. During one petitioning period a few years ago, Marian called me to say that she wouldn't be getting many signatures that year. In fact, she said, she was calling from the stool in front of a slot machine in Vegas, and she laughed so hard then that she almost fell off her seat! This is the perfect example of Marian's loyalty to CFD and to the Democratic Party. She called her District Leader from Vegas, because the need for petition signatures, and their importance, was gnawing at her.

Just as Marian's perspective and outspoken opinions could be a breath of fresh air in a debate, she also loved the fresh air and was athletic. She rode her bike until recently and was an avid tennis player. For that reason, she was a vocal defender of the Central Park Tennis Courts and other park and environmental issues. She loved to rest in the sweetness of the West Side Community Garden to take a break from petitioning on a hot day. In her last years, she was determined to see as many friends and experience as much travel and indoor and outdoor music performances as she could.

One of Marian's best stories was of her three-week trip to Cuba about 10 years ago. She came down with an awful head cold while there, but never stopped singing the praises of the very professional free clinic and the woman doctor who treated and "cured" her, making it possible for her to enjoy her vacation.

Marian was single and had no children. Cousins, who include at least one medical doctor, have assisted her during her illness.

I, for one, will miss Marian's gruff feistiness and her bottomless commitment to fight for what she loved and believed in. Greatness, I suppose, runs on a scale. In the relatively small CFD universe, at least, Marian was a truly great, and irreplaceable, woman.

Now is the winter of our fiscal discontent
made glorious summer by this son of Mario.
Tele.: (212) 840+12.34


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