Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Impeachment Of Governor Andrew Cuomo Goes Nowhere - No Surprises Here

 

Speaker Carl Heastie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

In New York State, did anyone really believe that Governor Andrew Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would be held accountable for any of his actions, including sexual harassment of women who worked for him?

Reporter who covered Cuomo for years recounts governor's 'checkered, bullying, spiteful' past

Nope.

 Betsy Combier

Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Even the impeachment of Gov. Cuomo is just grist for corruption

NY POST Editorial Board, May 31, 2021

The charges against Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be real until Speaker Carl Heastie says they are.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who’s nominally in charge of the supposed Cuomo impeachment inquiry, admitted last week that there’s no end anywhere in sight. Nor will there be, until Speaker Carl Heastie decides he wants it.

At just the third Judiciary Committee meeting to even pretend to address the issue since the ball supposedly started rolling in March, Lavine merely announced that the $250,000 for outside lawyers at Davis Polk & Wardwell is just the start; the Assembly will spend as much “as needed” on its investigation.

Meanwhile, The Post’s Bernadette Hogan reported that Heastie dutifully played middleman when Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted Assemblyman Ron Kim to walk back his truth-telling about the admission by top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa that Team Cuomo had intentionally kept legislators in the dark about the true COVID death toll in state nursing homes.

At the gov’s behest, Heastie had an aide “relay” Cuomo’s request that Kim deny what he’d already told the press. “I came to the conclusion that if I put out this statement, that I would be complicit in the coverup,” Kim told The Post.

And Heastie had his staff convey that invitation to help deceive the public, not the first time he’s had staff relay the gov’s threats.

So it stands to reason the Assembly’s impeachment probe won’t get very far until Cuomo tells Heastie it’s time to wrap it up. And, sadly, all Cuomo has to do in return is let the speaker have his way with public policy — the public interest be damned.

Pretty sordid, isn’t it, that even the effort to hold a governor to account for horrific abuse of his office is just grist for another corrupt bargain?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Report of The Special Advisor on Equal Justice in the Courts



Recommendations from the  Special Adviser on Equal Justice in the Courts 

From: National Public Voice

New York’s courts continue efforts to combat racism

By Rachel Vick, Queenseagle.com, May 17, 2021

Just six months after the release of a report outlining racism in the state’s court system, leaders shared an update on the steps they are taking to eliminate system-wide bias.

The dozen recommendations made by the Special Adviser on Equal Justice in the Courts, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, were issued in October 2020 to mitigate pervasive racism within the courts by declaring a zero-tolerance policy and implementing bias training. 

“There is no greater priority for the court system than the implementation of the Special Adviser's recommendations,” Chief Administrative Judge Marks said on Monday. “I am gratified by the significant progress made these past few months and look forward to further developments in our pursuit to combat racial and other bias systemwide.” 

Marks described the task force’s ongoing efforts as a “critically-important undertaking” and “a wide-ranging endeavor that relies on the collaboration and support” from all parties involved. 

To date, the courts have taken steps including improving high ranking court official’s outreach, mandatory training for all judges and nonjudicial staff on racial bias and implicit bias, mandatory name tags for court personnel, updating the court system’s juror orientation video to address juror bias, increasing visibility of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission and Office of Diversity and Inclusion, increasing language access and the inclusion of diversity in a new Unified Court System mission statement.

“In the service of our mission, the UCS is committed to operating with integrity and transparency, and to ensuring that all who enter or serve in our courts are treated with respect, dignity, and professionalism,” the new statement reads.  “We affirm our responsibility to promote a court system free from any and all forms of bias and discrimination, and to promote a judiciary and workforce that reflect the rich diversity of New York State.” 

They are also working to increase awareness of the Inspector General’s office, including its Bias Matters Unit, where court system employees and court users can file complaints, and increase access through an intermediary. 

Judge Edwina Mendelson, who is overseeing the overhaul, is launching a website to highlight the vision and ongoing work of the Equal Justice in the Court's Initiative in the coming weeks. She is also in the process of organizing court officer community outreach programs and a community affairs appointee in each courthouse to improve public trust.

“It is a professional and personal privilege for me to oversee implementation of the Special Adviser’s recommendations for eliminating racial bias in the courts and promoting meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels,” Mendelssohn said. “I have deep faith in the strength of our commitment and a strong belief in our collective will to meet this moment – and to fulfill our obligation to provide equal justice in all our courts.”

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Cornell Law Student Defends Blogger's First Amendment Rights in Anti-SLAPP Case

 


Law student plays key role in blogger’s defamation defense

A decision in a defamation case argued primarily by a Cornell Law School student is one of the first in New York state court to address a legal question spurred by recent legislative changes strengthening free speech protections.

On May 10, a New York Supreme Court judge in Ontario County dismissed a construction company’s lawsuit against James Meaney of Geneva, New York, publisher of the Geneva Believer watchdog blog, who was defended by the Law School’s First Amendment Clinic and co-counsel Michael Grygiel of Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Judge Brian Dennis


During a virtual hearing on Dec. 9, 2020, third-year law student Rob Ward led the defense team’s argument for why the amended anti-SLAPP laws – short for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – should apply retroactively. Judge Brian Dennis agreed that amendments approved in November to New York’s so-called “anti-SLAPP” statutes, which seek to deter use of the courts to silence criticism in public matters, should apply to the case retroactively. But he also found that the previous version of the statute would have applied as well and that Massa Construction Inc. could not meet its statutory burden to show that its claims had a substantial basis in law and fact. Dennis ruled that Meaney’s challenged articles were comprised of true facts and constitutionally protected opinions, rejecting Massa’s theory of defamation by implication and holding that satirical images in the articles were non-actionable.

State and federal judges have recently reached that conclusion in unrelated cases, but at the time of the hearing no courts had weighed in on the matter.

Ward pointed to legislative history revealing state lawmakers’ intent to clarify the original purpose of statutes enacted in 1992, which was for the statute to apply more broadly than courts have previously interpreted it, and for the amendments to take effect immediately.

“New York has a long history of being at the forefront of expansive definitions of free expression,” Ward said. “This decision helps build on that tradition and will help protect journalists and other citizens trying to make their voices heard in their communities.”

The victory was the First Amendment Clinic’s second on Meaney’s behalf since Massa filed its defamation claim in January 2020. Last June, the same court on First Amendment grounds denied Massa’s request for a temporary restraining order demanding Meaney take down articles reporting on the company’s ties to the Geneva city council, which according to Meaney’s reporting has awarded Massa more than $4 million in contracts since 2010.

Meaney’s articles highlighted potential conflicts of interest involving a city council member who was also a Massa employee, and a former council member whose son worked part-time for both the company and the city. He reported on missing bid records – revealed by his Freedom of Information Law requests – and questioned the rationale for certain projects.

The First Amendment Clinic said the defamation case lacked merit broadly, including the fact that Meaney’s reporting – based on public meetings and public records – was accurate. The company claimed the allegedly defamatory statements implied wrongdoing and corruption – a disfavored legal theory, according to First Amendment Fellow Tyler Valeska.

Meaney’s reporting on and criticism of the city’s spending “is protected at the core of the First Amendment and the New York Constitution as speech on a matter of public concern,” the defense team argued in requesting the case be dismissed.

Valeska was thrilled with the comprehensive victory. He emphasized the court’s conclusion that Meaney would have been protected even under the narrower prior version of New York’s anti-SLAPP law. And he noted that the amended laws, applied retroactively, made the case a slam dunk. Application of the anti-SLAPP law increased Massa’s burden of proof, facilitated the case’s early dismissal and entitled Meaney to collect attorney’s fees.

The case was part of the First Amendment Clinic’s Local Journalism Project, which supports newsgatherers and media outlets lacking the resources to defend themselves against expensive, potentially frivolous litigation. Associate Director Cortelyou Kenney and a group of students including Michael Mapp were also part of the clinic team handling the case.

“The clinic believes that such threats have a dangerous chilling effect on local journalism and must be fought to ensure that the public receives newsworthy information,” said Mark Jackson, the clinic’s director and adjunct professor of law.

For Ward, helping to shape a novel aspect of state law was a rewarding opportunity, one that is relatively rare for a law student.

“I was grateful to play a role in defending this journalist who, if the clinic weren’t here, might have had to stop publishing,” Ward said. “Getting to not only write on his behalf but to argue before a judge on his behalf was an amazing experience.”

Ward said the skills and courtroom experience gained during his three semesters in the clinic will serve him well in a career that will start in tax law, and that First Amendment issues will remain a passion. Meaney’s challenges in Geneva, a city of 13,000, resonated personally with the native of Broadalbin, New York, a town of 5,000 about an hour northwest of Albany in Fulton County.

“This case hit close to home,” he said. “It was really appealing to me to work with someone who cares about his upstate New York community and is trying to report on it and make it a better place.”

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Federal Courts Need Transparency of the Perks Offered Judges


The Federal Courts Have a Transparency Problem. Here’s How We Can Fix It.

The third branch says it’s the most transparent when it comes to its work, but it’s the least transparent when it comes to the perks.

Every odd-numbered year, during the mid-March open government festival called “Sunshine Week,” members of Congress introduce bills that would require the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts to broadcast their proceedings live to the public. This year has been no different.

It’s a worthy endeavor, but it obscures the fact that a lack of live broadcast is not, by a long shot, the most hazardous transparency deficit that faces the federal judiciary today. This is especially true in 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court and all 13 federal appeals courts offer live audio access to their hearings.

The black box is not judicial proceedings but what judges and justices do away from the bench. Federal jurists are treated like “rock stars,” receiving all sorts of benefits when they leave the confines of their chambers and step out across the U.S. and the world. They are feted with luxury box football tickets, blocks of hotel rooms, gift blankets and gift baskets, free hunting trips and fishing equipment. They fly to Malta and New Zealand and South Africa. They accept $2,000 prizes and $1 million prizes. They make $1.5 million and $1.9 million in book royalties and fail to recuse when their publishers have cases before them.

What’s most dispiriting about these details is that they were uncovered months or even years after the fact, long past when they may have been relevant to the work that we, the public, entrusted to them. The third branch says it’s the most transparent when it comes to its work (judicial opinions), but it’s the least transparent when it comes to the perks. Attempts to detect conflicts of interest in real time rely on conjecture.

This lack of transparency cuts both ways: Greater disclosure can sometimes show justices in a more ethical light. For example, on Jan. 15, 2016, Chief Justice John Roberts weighed in on a Microsoft petition to the high court, which raised eyebrows, since his last disclosure showed he owned Microsoft shares, and federal law states a judge can’t consider a case if he owns stock in a litigant. But by law, Roberts was not required to disclose his early 2016 stock status until June 15, 2017, some 500 days later. (Turns out he sold his shares on Jan. 5, 2016, allowing him to participate.)

If Roberts were, instead, a member of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and similarly decided to sell his Microsoft stock as he weighed an issue of import to the company, the public would know about the transaction within a couple of weeks.

This raises the critical point: The easiest way to bring sunshine to the third branch would be to hold our judges and justices to the same ethical standards that members of Congress already abide by—the same travel, gift, stock ownership and financial disclosure rules.

Senators and representatives must file, within a month of their return, a disclosure form whenever they travel on a third party’s dime. Judges and justices, on the other hand, file travel disclosures once per year and can omit the dollar amounts of their perks—airline tickets, lodging, meals and the like.

Members of Congress have strict rules on accepting gifts and in nearly all circumstances must refuse gifts from lobbyists and foreign agents. Yet these rules by and large do not exist in the judiciary, and judges and justices are free to accept certain gifts from individuals with cases in their courts.

Any time a senator or representative buys or sells a stock, they must report that transaction within 45 days. In the third branch, you only need to report once per year, which, as mentioned earlier, can mean a lag of a year and a half before that information reaches the public.

Finally, all these disclosures—whether travel or stocks or gifts—are posted online if you’re a member of Congress. Judicial disclosures, however, are not automatically posted. Those that are online today got there because a transparency group asked for them, waited in some cases several years and uploaded them themselves.

There were a few bills introduced in the last Congress that would move us in the right direction. The Judicial Travel Accountability Act would require certain transportation, lodging and meal disclosures, and the 21st Century Courts Act would shine a light on judges’ and justices’ conflicts of interest and automatically post annual financial disclosure reports within 90 days.

But both bills died before enactment, and neither has been reintroduced this year.

At a time when faith in all three branches of government is low, government officials should favor more sunshine. There’s no better time than Sunshine Week to enact changes in judiciary policy—shedding light where there’s been none for far too long.

Gabe Roth is executive director of Fix the Court, a national nonpartisan organization that advocates for a more open and accountable federal judiciary.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Jeffrey Parker of Rincon Georgia is Sentenced to Six Months in Federal Prison For Making False Statements

 

Jeffrey Parker

People who believe in the cancel culture philosophy of making up false statements to defame someone are going to have their moment in court when more cases similar to that of Jeffrey Parker are fought by victims in criminal or civil cases filed in state or federal courts.

We are starting to mend as a society when the rampant posting of anonymous and false statements on the internet is stopped.


City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since MarBetsy Combier

Richmond Hill man pleads guilty to creating scheme to frame former acquaintance with violations of patient privacy


RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - A Richmond Hill man has admitted that he created fake email addresses and concocted other information to falsely accuse a former acquaintance of committing violations of patient privacy, according to the South District of Georgia.

Jeffrey Parker, 43, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of false statements. The charge carries a possible sentence of up to five years in federal prison.

According to court documents, Parker used an intricate scheme to claim a former acquaintance had violated privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In the news release from the Department of Justice, it states that Parker is accused of creating email addresses using names of real people and pretending to be them to make it appear as if his acquaintance committed a crime. Parker sent the emails to the hospital, the DOJ and to the FBI.

Parker claimed to have received threatening messages in retaliation for blowing the whistle, and FBI agents took steps to ensure his safety and investigate the alleged crime.

After an FBI agent interviewing Parker found inconsistencies in his story, Parker admitted the statements he made and emails he sent were false, according to the DOJ.

“Jeffrey Parker tried to portray himself as a ‘whistleblower’ while attempting to frame a former acquaintance,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “This fake complaint not only caused potential harm for an innocent victim but it also unnecessarily diverted resources from federal investigators whose diligent work shredded his web of lies.”

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.

DOJ: Rincon 'whistleblower' sentenced to federal prison in health care privacy law scheme

A Rincon man who portrayed himself as a 'whistleblower' while falsely accusing a former acquaintance of violating patient privacy has been sentenced to federal prison, the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday. 

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, David Estes, said Jeffrey Parker, 44, of Rincon, was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of false statements. Estes said Parker also was fined $1,200 and after completion of his prison term must serve three years of supervised release. 

There is no parole in the federal system.

Our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to protect the community by solving real crimes, and cases like this only divert time and resources from critical tasks,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Jeffrey Parker’s fake complaint needlessly alarmed the victim and health care workers, but his scheme ultimately unraveled under the questioning of a perceptive FBI agent.

According to court documents and testimony, Parker admitted that he “engaged in an intricate scheme” in October 2019 when he contacted the DOJ to claim that a former acquaintance had violated privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The DOJ said Parker created email addresses using the names of real individuals and pretended to be these individuals to make it appear as if the acquaintance committed a crime. 

The DOJ said he sent the emails to the hospital where the acquaintance worked, to the DOJ, and to the FBI, and then claimed to have received threatening messages in retaliation for acting as a whistleblower. 

The DOJ said FBI agents quickly responded by acting to ensure Parker’s safety and investigate his allegations, and following questioning, Parker admitted putting together the scheme in an attempt to harm the former acquaintance.

Many hours of investigation and resources were wasted determining that Parker's whistleblower complaints were fake, meant to do harm to another citizen,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Before he could do more damage, his elaborate scheme was uncovered by a perceptive agent and now he will serve time for his deliberate transgression.

The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Schwedler.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fake whistleblower sentenced to federal prison for trying to frame a former acquaintance for violating patient privacy

Man created fake email accounts, used others' identities

SAVANNAH, GA:  A Rincon man who portrayed himself as a whistleblower while falsely accusing a former acquaintance of violating patient privacy has been sentenced to federal prison.

Jeffrey Parker, 44, of Rincon, Ga., was sentenced to six months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood after pleading guilty to one count of False Statements, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Parker also was fined $1,200 and after completion of his prison term must serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to protect the community by solving real crimes, and cases like this only divert time and resources from critical tasks,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Jeffrey Parker’s fake complaint needlessly alarmed the victim and health care workers, but his scheme ultimately unraveled under the questioning of a perceptive FBI agent.”

As outlined in court documents and testimony, Parker admitted that he “engaged in an intricate scheme” in October 2019 when he contacted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to claim that a former acquaintance had violated privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Parker created email addresses using the names of real individuals and pretended to be these individuals to make it appear as if the acquaintance committed a crime.  He sent the emails to the hospital where the acquaintance worked, to the DOJ, and to the FBI, and then claimed to have received threatening messages in retaliation for acting as a whistleblower. FBI agents quickly responded by acting to ensure Parker’s safety and investigate his allegations, and under subsequent questioning, Parker admitted concocting the scheme in an attempt to harm the former acquaintance. 

“Many hours of investigation and resources were wasted determining that Parker's whistleblower complaints were fake, meant to do harm to another citizen,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Before he could do more damage, his elaborate scheme was uncovered by a perceptive agent and now he will serve time for his deliberate transgression.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Schwedler.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Identity Theft
Contact: 
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422
Press Release Number: 
29-21

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Alexandra Murphy, Daughter of New York's Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, Takes Seat as a Judge in the 9th District

 

Alexandra Murphy.  She is a state Supreme Court judge in the New York State’s
9th Judicial District.


DiFiore’s Daughter Secured Judicial Post in Wake of Cuomo Move

When a main opponent was elevated to a judgeship on the Court of Claims, attorney Alexandra Murphy sailed to a state Supreme Court seat in the Hudson Valley, political insiders say.

The daughter of New York’s top judge sailed to a state Supreme Court seat last fall after Gov. Andrew Cuomo elevated one of her main opponents to a separate judicial post, political insiders say.

Alexandra Murphy, 36, has quietly started a 14-year term as a state Supreme Court judge in the Ninth Judicial District, which covers five counties in the mid-Hudson region.

Murphy, who is the daughter of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, is set to make a salary of $210,900.

The governor nominated one of Murphy’s main competitors, court attorney Veronica Hummel, as a judge for the state Court of Claims in July 2020, according to party insiders. That move cleared the path for Murphy to receive the Democratic party nomination less than three weeks later, which earned her a spot on the ballot under the party line, they said.

“I felt that was an embarrassment to the party,” said one judicial delegate, weighing in on the maneuver that allowed Murphy an easier track to the nomination.

Murphy went on to receive more than 557,000 votes in the November general election, coming in second overall and securing one of the four open state Supreme Court judgeships.

Murphy, who was rated as “well qualified” by two county bar associations, had a 10-year career as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. She worked in a part-time role for more than half of her time there, according to a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

Running for the Bench

The Democratic Party nomination is key for state Supreme Court candidates running in the Ninth Judicial District, where Democrats hold a wide voter registration advantage over Republicans. 

Murphy had the least amount of legal experience among candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, even though she was qualified for the spot, according to several Democrats with knowledge about the race who spoke to the Law Journal under the condition of anonymity.

As a lawyer, she had only worked as an assistant district attorney but was running for a judicial position that dealt with a wide variety of civil cases, they said.

In the district, there’s a process for getting the Democratic nomination for a state Supreme Court seat, several insiders said. In general, past Democratic candidates spent several years attending political party events and interviewing with local political committees, they said.

That timeline appeared to not apply for Murphy, who gained the party nomination less than a year after becoming legally eligible for the judicial post, they said. Under state law, a person must be admitted to practice law in the state for at least 10 years before serving as a state Supreme Court judge.

Lucian Chalfen, a state court system spokesman, acknowledged that Murphy handles matrimonial and civil matters in Westchester County as a judge. 

“It is not unusual for a newly elected or appointed Judge to be assigned by court administrators to a new practice of law,” he said in a statement to the Law Journal.

Murphy’s campaign gained the endorsement of many local political committees and several party leaders, including Reginald Lafayette, a former Westchester County Democratic party chair.

Also endorsing Murphy was Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, who is the chair of the Rockland County Democratic party. She described Murphy as someone who was smart, dynamic and perfectly capable of serving as a state Supreme Court judge.

The Westchester County Bar Association rated Murphy as “well qualified” for the position, as did the Dutchess County Bar Association.

Murphy did not run under her mother’s last name and many Democrats, even those who raised eyebrows about her campaign, said she never brought up her mother’s position during their interactions with her.

Some party members said the high-profile status of Murphy’s mother was unavoidable, raising questions over how her mother’s public prominence impacted the race.

There is no indication that DiFiore played a direct role in Murphy’s campaign, or the move that placed Hummel on the Court of Claims.

“The Chief Judge neither appoints nor anoints Judges, including her daughter,” Chalfen said in a statement.

DiFiore, who herself was nominated by Cuomo, is the head of New York’s judicial branch and the state’s top court. She also oversees a multibillion-dollar budget and a sprawling court system that includes judges and nonjudicial employees across the state.

Her reputation runs deeper in Westchester County, where she previously served as a county court judge and spent many years as the county’s district attorney, said one judicial delegate.

DiFiore and Murphy did not make themselves available for an interview.

Prosecutorial Career

A graduate of Fordham University law school, Murphy spent more than 10 years as a prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney’s office—an experience she highlighted during her run for state Supreme Court.

Murphy, who started as an assistant district attorney in September 2009, worked in a trial bureau for years before working in a quality of life unit, according to office spokesman Danny Frost.

Murphy worked in a part-time role for most of her employment at the office and had transitioned to that status in 2014, he said. When she left the office in early 2020, Murphy had less than five years as a full-time prosecutor, according to Frost.

Chalfen said Murphy went to part-time status when she had her first child and she did work as a supervisor at one point during her part-time status.

Knowing how to balance work and life, he said, allows her to have more empathy for litigants and to be part of a more inclusive judiciary. He implied Murphy “should be commended” for wanting to emulate her mother’s decades-long career.

In a campaign video, Murphy appeared to reference her prosecutorial experience and said she had dedicated her career to public service.

“The knowledge and experience I have gained over the last decade practicing in one of the busiest courthouses in the country have prepared me to serve in this next capacity,” she said.

The former prosecutor ran on the Democratic and Conservative party lines during last year’s general election.

Murphy was boosted by a well-funded campaign and received a $10,000 loan from her father, Dennis Glazer, in February 2020, according to campaign filings. Glazer is also DiFiore’s husband.

Chalfen said the $10,000 loan was used to kick off Murphy’s campaign. DiFiore and Glazer “maintain separate checking accounts,” he said in a statement.

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who focuses on legal ethics, said DiFiore as chief judge has limitations on her political activity, but those do not apply to her husband. Glazer, he said, does not give up his rights as a citizen due to his relationship with DiFiore. 

Gillers also commended Murphy for not running under her mother’s last name.

Now that Murphy is on the bench, DiFiore should not sit on any case in which her daughter was a lower court judge, he said.

Political Jockeying

There were four open judicial spots in the Ninth Judicial District during last year’s general election. But before the Democratic party nominations were settled, political insiders say the main competition came down to three candidates—Murphy, Hummel and Robert Ondrovic—for two open state Supreme Court seats in Westchester County.

Another candidate, E. Loren Williams, was expected to fill an open position in Orange County and Judge Sam Walker in the Ninth Judicial District was an incumbent, making him likely to win reelection, they said.

Before the general election, Democrats in the Ninth Judicial District hold a judicial convention where they nominate candidates for state Supreme Court.

Last year, the Democratic judicial convention appeared to be headed for a contested convention, with Murphy, Ondrovic and Hummel competing for the two open positions, two judicial delegates said.

Hummel had been principal court attorney in White Plains for a state Supreme Court judge, according to a press release.

She had also served as the principal court attorney for a Westchester County Court judge and worked as the principal court attorney for a state Supreme Court judge in New York City, the release said.

Ondrovic conducted more than 300 jury trials and practiced for more than three decades in state Supreme Court, according to campaign material. Attempts to reach Ondrovic for this article were unsuccessful.

Many people wanted to back Murphy because they saw her as a younger candidate who was personable, said one judicial delegate from the district. It’s possible that Murphy could have come out with one of the two spots even with competition, the judicial delegate said.

“So what happened took away any risk from anybody,” they said, referring to Hummel’s nomination to the state Court of Claims.

Less than three weeks from the judicial convention, Hummel announced on Facebook that she was confirmed as a judge on the Court of Claims and expected to become an acting Supreme Court judge in the Bronx. 

While my application was first filed last year, this opportunity suddenly presented itself,” read the July 2020 post on her Facebook page.

Hummel expressed interest in a Court of Claims judgeship during the summer, according to the judicial delegate, and it was known that a Court of Claims nomination could resolve the issue of three candidates running for two open Westchester judgeships.

“In the heat of battle, it may seem like a consolation prize. But it’s not,” the judicial delegate said.

Yet Tina Volz-Bongar, a district leader with the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, said she couldn’t help but feel disheartened over Hummel taking the Court of Claims position—even though the move did get her on the bench.

To Volz-Bongar, it felt like the party didn’t do its job. Democratic voters trust the party to follow a process that puts forward the best candidate, she said.

“And it didn’t happen that way,” she said. “It’s so disappointing to me.”