“Judges’ Elections Get New Scrutiny; Bronx district attorney’s nomination for state Supreme Court brings issue to the fore”


Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s quick transformation from a candidate for re-election to a nominee for state court justice—without a vote being cast—is raising questions about the clout that state election law gives to party leaders and shedding light on New York’s largely obscure judicial electoral system.

Judicial delegates for the Democratic Party in the Bronx gathered in a low-ceilinged ballroom Thursday night to nominate Mr. Johnson to one of six spots on this year’s ballot for state Supreme Court in the borough. Mr. Johnson is all but assured the seat in the Nov. 3 election because the Bronx is overwhelmingly Democratic.

For years, the state’s judicial-selection process has been criticized as opaque and undemocratic, a system in which delegates—often party loyalists, including elected officials and their family members—rubber-stamp candidates handpicked by county party leaders.

In the Bronx Thursday, there wasn’t a dissenting vote cast, or an alternate candidate put forward to run in November.

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