Today, I announce my write-in candidacy for State Supreme Court justice.
My platform? It unites a cross section of liberals and conservatives, males and females, all racial groups – anyone who believes in good government.
Unlike judicial candidates who claim they can’t say what they would do once on the bench, I make one basic campaign promise: Win election, then resign.
The governor, with Senate confirmation, would then pick my replacement from a list put forward by a screening committee that would actually consider qualifications.
The benefit is obvious: Western New York then would be ensured of at least one top-flight new judge, instead of the two party loyalists we’re in line to get if Democrats and Republicans cross-endorse one another’s picks for the two coming Supreme Court vacancies.
Their insider dealing denies voters any voice at all and is Exhibit A for all that’s wrong with politics in Western New York.
And whom are they trying to foist upon us? The Republicans are putting up divorce lawyer Emilio Colaiacovo, who just coincidentally has handled much of the party’s election law matters while citing his “laurels and accomplishments.”
His reward? A guaranteed $174,000-a-year judgeship for the next 14 years.
The Democrats want to hand the other seat to Frank “Not Enough Evidence” Sedita, the Erie County district attorney with the famous last name and the infamous reputation for dodging tough cases to keep his conviction rate high.
Sedita has objected that he goes only where the evidence takes him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to take him where other prosecutors end up going. The feds and the state attorney general had to step in and win convictions in murder cases Sedita passed on, and he still refuses to prosecute a 2013 Evans hit-and-run fatality despite what cops say is ample evidence. But, hey, he has name recognition.
Granted, Sedita also has his defenders, having been awarded by peers, tapped to lead the state DA association and appointed to various reform panels. That means he’s either being unfairly tarnished by critics, or is a very good political insider. You be the judge.
Of course, knowing how rigged the game is, I decided to check with an expert to see if there are any other minimum qualifications besides party loyalty and name recognition. Turns out, it’s even worse than we thought.
“The minimum is 10 years as an attorney; that’s in the New York State Constitution,” said Paula Feroleto, administrative judge for the Eighth Judicial District.
Did you think the lawyer-politicians were going to make it easy for an outsider to grab this lucrative post, even though lower-level trial courts impose no such restriction?
Undaunted, I’m proceeding by advancing a novel juridical theory: voter nullification. Just as juries rebel by rendering verdicts that effectively nullify bad law, voters can rebel against this insider game by writing in my name despite the 10-year rule.
And if my victory is disallowed, I’ll file an Article 78 proceeding challenging the rule’s validity. The attendant publicity will spotlight the whole sordid judicial election process and lead to demands for reform.
And the whole mess will end up … where else? … in State Supreme Court.