Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Case of the Missing Judicial Ratings

What happened to the Monroe County Bar Association's ratings for this year's Democratic candidates for New York Supreme Court?

For all judicial elections, the Bar Association rates each candidate's qualifications.   It interviews each candidate, surveys hundreds of attorneys, conducts research, then confers one of three possible ratings:   "Highly Qualified," "Qualified" and "Not Qualified."

In May the MCBA rated all candidates running at the time.   This was before the two people who ran in November as Democratic candidates, Paloma Capanna and Lamarr Jackson, announced their candidacies.

Once they did, the Bar Association went through its customary ratings process.   And the ratings of the Democratic candidates were ...  ?

No one knows.   At least, no one other than Bar Association staff and the candidates.

The Bar Association never released the results.

• Did the MCBA suppress "Not Qualified" determinations?

• Did the candidates withdraw from the vetting process?   Is that even permitted?   What would be the point of a supposedly impartial ratings process if candidates could avoid disclosure by "withdrawing" before a rating is made public?

• Did the candidates receive favorable ratings, but withdrew out of some principled objection to the ratings process itself?

Probably we'll never know.   Certainly no one in the local media ever reported on the strange case of the missing bar ratings.   Given the issues it might have raised regarding qualifications of Democratic candidates for judicial office, who'd have expected our local media to even ask the question?

The County Bar Association, an ostensibly neutral institution, seems well down the path of corruption by partisan influence.

Two years ago the MCBA shilled shamelessly for Democrats by breaking an agreement it made with the County regarding its participation in selecting the Public Defender.   It willingly aligned itself with David Gantt's street thuggery that turned the entire process into a circus.   But then, of course it would.   The Bar Association receives grants of state money from Assemblyman Gantt.

Now the MCBA appears to have suppressed information intended to be public, regarding Democratic judicial candidates.

Lawyers talk about avoiding "even the appearance of impropriety."   We think some lawyers who mean it should get active in the Monroe County Bar Association.   And take it over.


Anonymous said...

Philbrick: Perhaps you must be a lawyer to even care. Please take no offense at the following.

Who cares? I certainly don't.

Given the poor track record of most bar associations, why would anyone care and/or put stock in what the bar ascribes to a soon to be judge? By far, lawyers are the biggest vex of government. And perhaps the biggest legitimate con game since the american medical association.

I do appreciate your articles, keep 'em coming.

Howling Mad Murdock

Philbrick said...

Murdock --

Excellent point. Couldn't agree more. Bar association ratings are an irrelevant joke.

As with many of the venerable old institutions that have become property of the Left over the years, bar associations retain, at least in the eyes of some older voters perhaps, a residue of their old respectability.

The purpose of our piece was to point out how the association apparently is gaming its own rating system, to help its favored candidates, not to suggest that its ratings should be taken seriously.

Our regards to the A-Team.