Thursday, September 15, 2016

Asian American judge still battling for spot on the ballot

JUSTICE Doris Ling-Cohan of the New York Supreme Court will get her day in court.

The Manhattan Democratic Party will nominate Ling-Cohan for the ballot for re-election as a state Supreme Court justice this fall at the party’s Sept. 22 convention, sources said. The action reverses a screening panel's earlier decision that stirred up a firestorm of protest.

"There are too few Asian/American judges in New York," read a statement from Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund. "We must not support a nominating system that allows highly qualified and independent judicial candidates to be kept off the ballot, simply because they fall out of favor with party leaders or unfairly become the target of anonymous attacks."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline has been corrected to be more accurate. Earlier versions of this post may have given the wrong impression that Justice Ling-Cohan had already won her ballot battle. Her fight goes on and will be determined by the Sept. 22  NYC Democratic Convention.
The initial rejection of Ling-Cohan, first revealed in a New York Post story last week quoting an anonymous source saying the panel viewed her as “lazy,” has called into question the impartiality of the process — now dominated by lawyers who enjoy the opportunity to pick the judges they will appear before in cases involving millions of dollars. “These white shoe lawyers are getting a chance to knock off judges to benefit themselves,” charged Pete Gleason of the Downtown Independent Democrats.

Ling-Cohan, who in 2002 became the first Asian woman elected to the New York Supreme Court, is hailed as a hero in the LGBT community for her ruling upholding same-sex marriage in 2005 — six years before the state legalized same-sex marriage and 10 years before the US Supreme Court deemed it constitutional.
In her defense, AALDEF wrote: "Justice Ling-Cohan is a graduate of New York University Law School and a founder of the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the New York Asian Women's Center. After her election to the New York Supreme Court, she was appointed to the Appellate Term in 2014. She wrote one of the first marriage equality decisions in the nation in 2005, Hernandez v. Robles. In 2015, she was among the 75 outstanding women lawyers named by National Law Journal for excellence in the legal profession."
But it was Ling-Cohan's support of tenants' rights that allegedly drew the ire of at least one of the panelists. 
Critics of the panel recommendation say that opposition to Ling-Cohan was spearheaded by a real estate lawyer whose firm would benefit if Ling-Cohan, who is widely supported by tenant groups, were not allowed to run again.

LING-CohaN will now likely be added onto the November ballot, the Post reported Monday, if she receives the official nod at the committee's Sept. 22 judicial convention.