THE LAW FIRM OF
HE ATRA UILDING RAVI@RAVIBATRALAW.COM
142 LEXINGTON AVE. FAX: 212-545-0967
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10016
August 12, 2016
By Fax 347-750-8344
Hon. Frank Seddio
Democratic County Leader, Kings County
Re: Justice Laura Jacobson
I have the high honor and sacred duty to represent Justice Laura Jacobson, and to protect her judicial independence.
As I'm "old school," respect is due to a Leader. So, I called you first to remedy the wrong that your appointed Judicial Screening Committee has caused out of personal malice or reckless disregard of the truth. That they exacerbated their discretionary injury with violation of statutory confidentiality under color of law is inexcusable - as the reputational damage is total.
I respectfully request that you dismiss your Committee and institute a new committee which does not carry out contract-kills and/or pierce necessary confidentiality required for judicial screening; and then re-interview Justice Jacobson - as Judicial Independence is the alter upon which Lady Justice presides, something every Screener, aware of their "Officer of the Court" status, ought cherish.
Let me know if you will dismiss the Screening Committee for cause by Monday, August 15, 2016 4pm. The law is a many splendored thing and it can remedy many wrongs, including, what has been done to my client - Justice Jacobson. I include a copy of my September 9, 2004 Letter to Chairman Marty Edelman, when the late Justice Louis Marrero, fiercely independent of Screener-misconduct.
Warm personal regards to Joy and you,
The Law Firm of
RAVI BATRA P.C.
The Batra Building firstname.lastname@example.org
142 Lexington Ave, Fax: 212-545-0967
New York, N.Y. 10016
September 9, 2004
By Mail and Fax 212-943-0001 Hon. Martin R. Edelman, Esq.
Chair, Kings County Democratic Independent Judicial Screening Committee
New York, NY 10006
Re: Honorable Louis J. Marrero, Justice of the Supreme Court
Dear Mr. Edelman:
Being committed to promoting excellence in the law, I write to offer unequivocal support for the approval by the Edelman Committee and subsequent renomination of Honorable Louis J. Marrero as a Justice of the Supreme Court. He is a sensitive jurist with ingrained compassion, uncommon integrity, a work ethic that society seldom sees, and a talent that is recognized by the very apex of our profession: Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye. Chief Judge Kaye selected Justice Marrero to preside over the first-ever Citywide pilot project--- Violation of Probation Part. He did so well, that the Pilot graduated to Citywide operation in all other counties. He is what society prays a judge is, but does not always get. Justice Marrero comprehends the awesome power and fiduciary responsibility of judging one's fellow human being, and does so in an exemplary way. He deserves to be approved and has earned the renomination.
Starting almost 12 years ago, I witnessed for nearly five years Justice Marrero preside in
Richmond Supreme during the pendency of a tortured case, in which I had parachuting into (after the departure of the 3 or 4th counsel that left the client reeling financially and emotionally) while Justice Marrero's Solomonic, highly nuanced and compassionate finding and order was concurrently on appeal; Justice Marrero was affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department, with PJ Mangano presiding. In the appealed Order, Justice Marrero while finding the charge of sexual abuse unsubstantiated, did not apply the penalty of forfeiture of custody, as is typically done, finding that the mother was too dedicated and invested in her child to make such charge maliciously. Parenthetically, it is a pity that ineffective counsel safeguard is not a standard part of our protocol whenever our system deals with children. While I have never had but that one case many years ago, I have since observed
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Justice Marrero in different settings, including, dealing with attorneys, staff, litigants, court personnel, and the lay public. He is a honest and unassuming gem of a judge. That our Chief Judge selected him to preside over a pilot project confirms the court system's finding of excellence in him, and I submit, collaterally estopps the Committee from any finding other than "qualified."
I am dismayed by the front-page coverage by Elizabeth Stull in today's New York Law Journal, which reports that Justice Marrero received one vote shy of a 2/3 super majority vote at his rehearing finding him "qualified;" had the same vote occurred at the initial hearing, these same screeners would have found him overwhelmingly "qualified." However unintended, this is a cavalier injustice to Justice Marrero and family and our society he has ably and demonstratively served, and breaches the essential covenant of screening: that at least when merit appears, merit will be found (albeit, the converse may not be true). This is a renomination, and hence, how the process works is as important as the candidate; or else, judicial independence, the core of our freedoms, will lay wounded. The issue of political registration is irrelevant, as screening, like the law, must operate and apply in a manner that is merit-based and devoid of political considerations. I enclose an op-ed piece published on July 5, 2004.
May I urge you and your Committee to expeditiously do what it needs to so as to protect the very important function that judicial screening serves in New York State's protocol of electing Justices of the Supreme Court.
Encl: Op-Ed "Answering Call for Judicial
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Ron Patafio, Editor, Editorial Page, The Journal News (914)694-5031 Rpatafio@theiournalnews.gannett.com
Re: Answering the call of Chief Judge Kaye for systemic reforms
Accepting the challenge from New York's reform-minded Chief Judge Kaye, Fordham Dean John Feerick, fondly known as John The Good, and his Commission acted. Now, a second great step has been taken---the NYS Assembly has responded, as surely will the Senate and the Governor. That our elected representatives, including District Attorneys, will honorably rise to the occasion is not in dispute; neither is the appropriate consideration of the pros and cons of alternatives suggested and to-be-suggested to not only promote confidence, but to make it almost impossible for a corrupt or corruptible candidate to make it to the noble bench. The law is the law, and not a political party-appendage. The overwhelming members of the bench are hardworking and honest, comprehend the awesome power and fiduciary responsibility ofjudging one's fellow human being, and that the absolute predicate is actual, not just merely apparent, integrity; being in agreement with conventional wisdom is not required, or else slavery and antisemitism would still be legal.
Having served as one of New York County Lawyers' designee to the City Bar's Judiciary Committee, and then later, on Kings County Democratic Independent Judicial Screening Panel for Supreme Court (not for NYC Civil Court, as there was no such panel operating in Kings County at the time) and absorbed subsequent events, I offer a solitary nuance for public consideration: politics is the ultimate escrow account.
All screeners are and will remain human beings, with human dynamics and the inherent lack of x-ray capability of seeing the future or into another person's heart and motivation; even Superman's x-ray vision was not so super. Most screeners are persons of integrity, and will exercise their judgment without fear of retribution or seeking illegal favor. Screeners while screening must rely upon the self-policing organs of the profession for professional safety and not seek political immunity, or else even axegrinding or contract-candidate killers could function on panels with improper collateral immunity and chill judicial independence; I have seen or smelled some version of that on the panels. Taking a page from our founding fathers and their singular contribution to history's march from tyranny to selfdetermination is that "absolute power" is bad, and "separated power" is better. If at every turn, our reform minded leaders work to dilute power, rather than concentrate power in the judicial selection and election process, then the greater-separated power will reduce the chance of a corrupt or corruptible candidate getting through to the noblest status of all: a judge.
The challenge for political parties is to see themselves as escrow agents holding democracy itself in escrow. They are then free to argue that their ideology is better than that of other political parties, and that theirjudicial candidate deserves voter approval. To increase the pool of meritorious candidates, aside from screening reforms, judicial salaries also need to be substantially adjusted upwards. As for all other matters, politics can safely go back to seeking political consensus, while the honest judiciary separate truth from lie and injury from frivolity, and painstakingly fashion justice, one case at a time. Dated: June 17, 2004
Ravi Batra, Esq.
The Law Firm of Ravi Batra, P.C.
142 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016