Bloomberg Swears In His Last Group of City Judges
For the last time in his 12-year administration, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday swore in seven judges to fill vacancies on the city's Family, Criminal and Civil Courts.
The judges were nominated through a merit-based selection process designed to ensure fairness and discourage political favoritism. Unlike most other mayoral powers, appointment of judges has potential to influence the city long after the mayor leaves office. Family and Criminal Court judges, for example, are appointed to 10-year terms. Civil Court judges are typically elected, but the mayor may appoint interim judges to fill vacancies as they arise.
"It's a textbook case of how American democracy should work," Bloomberg told a group gathered at City Hall to watch Tuesday's ceremony.
And it apparently will continue to work that way.
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, said in an email that he "supports this process and will continue it as mayor."
New York City is the only community in the state to use such a "merit-based" system. Judges in other areas are subject to election.
Family Court Judge Robert Hettleman takes the oath as his wife Susan and daughters Anna, 10 and Julia, 6, look on.
Bloomberg has appointed 86 judges since he took office in January 2002. His predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, named 67 judges in his two terms. Twelve of Bloomberg's appointees have risen to supervisory positions in Family and Criminal Courts.
Of Bloomberg's selections, 44 have been women and 26 have been minorities. They come from diverse backgrounds: 34 are former prosecutors, 29 came from the Legal Aid Society, eight worked in the city Law Department and 17 came from other city agencies. Forty-five have had experience in private practice at some point.