Democratic Judicial Screening Panel and Procedures Assailed

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Demonstration Planned for 1pm Wednesday, May 19th at 16 Court Street in front of the Kings County organization’s office

“It’s blackmail, plain and simple,” is how Community organizer Reverend Taharka Robinson describes the procedures of the Judicial Screening Committee for the Kings County Democratic Party.

Rev. Taharka Robinson, Community Activist

Rev. Robinson is speaking of the “I regret to inform you.” letters of rejection that the committee sends to candidates who did not clear their screening process.  
 The letter states that there is a right to appeal, however, “Assuming you do not choose to appeal, you may avoid a negative publication if you withdraw your candidacy unequivocally and with prejudice.”
The threat is that “the Committee will, Pursuant to the Judicial Selection Procedures, publish its findings to the Democratic Party and the news media.  Applicants who have been  found “Not Qualified at this time” who have withdrawn their candidacies “with prejudice” will not be cited in the Committee’s report.”
Meaning that if a candidacy is not withdrawn, the candidates reputation will have a “not qualified” smudge on it and the public will not know about a candidate who may have been perfectly well qualified, but who’s record cannot be compared to the  Committee’s selection.
Robinson also questions who is serving on the panel determining the candidates for judgeships in Kings County.
“Stephen Bamundo is not qualified to sit on the panel,” he asserts, speaking of a lawyer listed on the letterhead. “How can an individual who has been the subject of lawsuits and complaint be qualified to sit on the panel that determines who is fit to serve as  judge in the Second Judicial Department,” which includes the counties of Kings, Richmond and parts of Queens.  Robinson is referring to the $600,000 in malpractice suits against Bamundo, mostly involving failure to file papers on time, that were reported in the Daily News July 6, 2003.  (Bamundo’s lawyer, Arthur Ciampi said in the same article “My guess is if you did a story on any malpractice firm, you’d find these types of cases.”)
Robinson asks “How can someone who is himself the subject of several client complaints, be qualified to sit in judgment of judicial candidates?  They do this to keep us from being on the playing field and to maintain control of the bench.”  More about that in future issues.