On November 3, New York City voters will elect judges who will guide and decide civil and criminal cases for a decade or more.

Adi Talwar

New York County Supreme Court located at 60 Centre Street.


You don’t need to watch the Amy Coney Barrett hearings to understand that judges really matter. Far from the stately halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, New York City’s judges determine what happens to the child in a custody dispute, decide guilt or innocence in criminal cases, and rule on business disputes every day. While the governor appoints judges to appeals courts and the mayor appoints some family court and criminal court judges, the rest of the local judiciary is elected by voters to lengthy terms.

Do I get to vote on judges?

Many New York City voters will have a chance to vote on judges on November 3. To see what choices you might have, enter your address here and click on the button for your sample ballot.

What offices are at stake?

There are two. Judges of the Civil Court serve terms of 10 years, and they sit in civil, criminal or family court and can be acting Supreme Court justices. Justices of the Supreme Court are elected to 14-year terms and hears cases like lawsuits involving more than $25,000, and divorce, separation and annulment proceedings, and felony criminal cases.

What does “Approved” or “Not Approved” Mean?

Every election year, the New York Bar Association’s Committee on the Judiciary evaluates judicial candidates. The association says the designation “approved” means a candidate has “affirmatively demonstrated qualifications necessary for the performance of the duties of the position for which they are being considered.”

Who are the candidates?

 

 

Justice of the Supreme Court:1st Judicial District
Vote for 4

 

Carol Sharpe (Democratic) Judicial bio
Supervising Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

Ta-Tanisha James (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Family Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

David B. Cohen (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

Melissa Crane (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Criminal Court of the City of New York, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: New York County
Vote for 3

 

Leticia M. Ramirez (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

Eric Schumacher (Democratic) Campaign website
Attorney in private practice (NYC Bar Approved)

Michael L. Katz (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Justice of the Supreme Court: 13th Judicial District
Vote for 2

 

Mario F. Mattei (Democratic/Republican/SAM) Judicial bio
Judge, Criminal Court of the City of New York, Kings County (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Lisa Grey (Democratic/Republican/Conservative/SAM) Judicial bio
Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York, Richmond County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: Richmond

 

Allyn J. Crawford (Democratic/Independence) Campaign website
Attorney in private practice (NYC Bar Approved)

Ronald Castorina Jr. (RepublicanConservative/Libertarian/SAM) Bio
Attorney and former Assemblymember (NYC Bar Not Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 4th Municipal Court District, Queens

 

Denise N. Johnson (Democratic) QDE Profile
Has served as a principal law secretary for nearly 14 years (NYC Bar Not Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 6th Municipal Court District, Queens

 

Leigh K. Cheng (Democratic) Campaign website
Law secretary in the guardianship part of the civil court (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Justice of the Supreme Court:11th Judicial District
Vote for 9

 

Tracy A. Catapano-Fox (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County (NYC Bar Approved)

Mojgan Cohanim Lancman (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Queens County, Civil Term (NYC Bar Approved)

Joshua E. Goldfein (Working Families)
Staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Lance P. Evans (Democratic) QDE Profile
Evans is a judge in the Queens County civil part. (NYC Bar Approved)

Joseph F. Kasper (Republican/Conservative) Bio
Attorney and community activist (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Bob Cohen (Working Families) Twitter
Policy Director for Citizen Action of New York (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Karina E. Alomar (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Criminal Court of the City of New York, Queens County (NYC Bar Approved)

John C. Spataro (Republican/Conservative) Facebook
Has served as an insurance defense attorney for over 20 years (NYC Bar Approved)

Judith Goldiner (Working Families)
Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Michelle A. Johnson (Democratic) Judicial bio
Supervising Judge, Criminal Court of the City of New York, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

Kenneth Schaeffer (Working Families)
Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Darrell L. Gavrin (Democratic) Judicial bio
Justice, Supreme Court, Queens County (NYC Bar Approved)

Evelyn L. Braun (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Justice, Supreme Court, Queens County (NYC Bar Approved)

Afua Atta-Mensah (Working Families) Bio
Executive Director of Community Voices Heard (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Kevin J. Kerrigan (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Justice, Supreme Court, Queens County (NYC Bar Approved)

Justin Sweet (Working Families)
Sweet is listed as a candidate here because he lost an upstate primary for State Senate and WFP wanted to give his ballot line to a different candidate. (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Leonard Livote (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Judge, Court of Claims (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: Queens
Vote for 2

 

Jessica Earle-Gargan (Democratic) Campaign website
Former prosecutor turned court attorney (NYC Bar Approved)

Nestor H. Diaz (Democratic) Facebook
Attorney in private practice (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 3rd Municipal Court District, Kings

 

Maria Aragona (Democratic) Campaign website
Law Clerk, Supreme Court, Kings County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 5th Municipal Court District, Kings

 

Saul Stein (Democratic/Conservative) Campaign website
Senior court attorney, Bronx County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 1st Municipal Court District, Manhattan
Vote for 2

 

Carolruth Feinman (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Supreme Court Justice, Supreme Court, New York County, Civil Term (NYC Bar Not Approved)

John Zhuo Wang (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Housing Court, Civil Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 6th Municipal Court District, Manhattan

 

Seth A. Steed (Democratic) Bio
Managing Attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 9th Municipal Court District, Manhattan

 

Gerald Lebovits (Democratic ) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, New York County (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Justice of the Supreme Court:12th Judicial District
Vote for 3

 

Kim Adair Wilson (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

Orlando Molina (Republican)
Bronx attorney (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Andrew J. Cohen (Democratic) Official biography
Current Councilmember for the 11th district (NYC Bar Approved)

Bianka Perez (Democratic) Judicial bio
Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

 

 

Judge of the Civil Court: 2nd Municipal Court District, Bronx

 

Wanda Y. Negron (Democrat) Campaign website
Attorney, most recently, a Hearing Officer at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (NYC Bar Not Approved)

 

 

Justice of the Supreme Court: 2nd Judicial District
Vote for 6

 

Karen B. Rothenberg (Democratic) Judicial bio
Supreme Court Justice, Kings County (NYC Bar Approved)

Beth Parlato (Republican/Conservative) Campaign bio
Parlato, a Congressional candidate earlier this year, was given this ballot line to facilitate her party’s ballot changes elsewhere in the state. (NYC Bar Not Approved)

Carolyn E. Wade (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York (NYC Bar Approved)

Delores J. Thomas (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Justice, Supreme Court, Kings County (NYC Bar Approved)

Lizette Colon (Democratic) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Kings County, Civil Term (NYC Bar Approved)

Theresa M. Ciccotto (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Kings County, Civil Term (NYC Bar Not Approved)

William F. Mastro (Democratic/Republican/Conservative) Judicial bio
Associate Justice, NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division Second Department (NYC Bar Approved)

31 thoughts on “Oh Yeah, the Judges: A Quick Guide to NYC’s 2020 Judicial Ballot

  1. Kudos for being the second publication to note that Beth Parlato, a GOP/Conservative nominee for Supreme Court in Brooklyn, is actually a former upstate GOP Congressional candidate who lost her primary and was dumped into a judicial nomination in order to get her off the Conservative line (the first publication to note this was The Red Hook Star Revue, in a column by yours trulyhttp://www.star-revue.com/brownstone-brooklyn-voters-guide-2020/#sthash.m1IPVA8H.dpbs ).

    However, you failed to note this was also true true of Justin Sweet, a Working Families nominee for Supreme Court in Brooklyn, who is actually a former Rockland County Democratic State Senate candidate, who lost his primary and was dumped into a judicial nomination in order to get him off the WFP line, or that the five other Queens WFP nominees for Supreme Court were all former WFP placeholder candidates for other offices throughout the state, holding the lines, until the Democrats determined their nominees, who were now being dumped into judicial nominations to open up the WFP lines in those districts.

  2. Recently received a Absentee Ballot after submitting the application. I received the Ballot, however, it was a Military Absentee Ballot. I am not in the military. I called the Election Bd and was told it was a massive printing error but the Governor wants us to use the Military Ballot that I have and it will be counted.

    Later that day on News 1, it was represented that the mistake was made and that corrected
    Absentee Ballots would replace the Military Ballot.

    My question: Can I use the Absentee Military Ballot I have and once I submit it will it be
    COUNTED.

    Thanks

    ps i am a senior citizen.

    • It’s fine to use the Absentee Military Ballot: https://twitter.com/BOENYC/status/1316511424374546433

      More context from an NBC New York article:
      “Ordinarily, absentee ballots in the city are sent out with a heading identifying them as an “Official Absentee / Military Ballot.” This year, the slash between “absentee” and “military” was left out, leading some voters to believe they had mistakenly been mailed a ballot for use only by members of the military. The board tweeted that the ballot was still good for use by any registered voter.”

    • Yes you can use that, it happened to me too. It’s well documented that this is a minor printing error and that the ballots will still be counted. Even without the slash, it was always going to be the same ballot.

  3. On my ballot for Kings County under the “Justices of the Supreme Court” It says to “Vote for any Six” Do I have to vote for 6? Or can I pick just two. I don’t really agree with some of the Judges records. This is always the most confusing. I thought we only had a Supreme Court Justice for each County/District. Any insight would be much appreciated!! Thank you in advance!

  4. On my ballot (Kings County) the candidates for “Justice of the Supreme Court: 2nd Judicial District ” most of the candidates are listed as three different parties. (Democratic/Republican/Conservative)
    This is confusing. I don’t understand.
    My questions are: How can that be? and Will my vote be counted if I choose only 2?

    • Yes! You can definitely only choose two. Candidates are often cross-endorsed by multiple parties in judicial races — it’s the same when Democrats also run on the Working Families line, or Republicans run also on the Conservative line, in other races.

      • Thanks for your response. What do the multiple parties for a single individual mean? Example: Delores J Thomas appears on the ballot under Democratic, Republican and Conservative. What do these mean, does is matter if I complete the bubble for one vs the other?

        • It is not uncommon in New York City for parties to “cross-endorse” candidates. This frequently happens in elections for offices like state senator or mayor: A candidate might be on the Democratic and Working Families Party line, or on both the Republican and Conservative lines. In some cases, candidates have both the Democratic and Republican lines; Mayor Koch was re-elected in 1981 as both a Democrat and a Republican, for example.

          So that’s all that’s happening here: Some of these judges have multiple party lines, meaning they have either won a primary or been selected by party leaders. Why does a party cross-endorse? Usually, it’s because of some combination of ideological affinity and the desire of the party to remain relevant even if it cannot mount a candidate of its own.

          Does it matter which bubble you fill out? It does not matter in determining who wins the office–that’s just about the overall tally of votes per person. However, the bubble you choose could send a signal about your party affinity.

  5. Thank you for providing some information on the mysterious judges on our ballots! It’s crazy that NYC/NYS doesn’t automatically provide candidate information in a voter guide; it’s more difficult to find any information on these candidates than searching for a long lost relative!

  6. Super helpful website.

    If it asks to vote for 3 and there are 3 listed, will all 3 likely get confirmed as judges assuming no write in candidates exceed their totals? Or is it more complicated than that?

  7. For my 11th Judicial District (Queens) the only instructions I found ahead of time were to “vote for 9”. I used this guide and ballotopedia and the NYC Board of elections website. Out of the 17 listed, I chose the 9 I wanted to vote for. However, when I received my ballot at my early voting site, the names were arranged in rows and I was instructed by a poll worker to only select one name in each row. This meant that for the last three rows, I was forced to choose the only name there or write a name in and I didn’t get to vote for 3 of my choices. Is that, in fact, how the ballot is supposed to work? If the candidates are running for specific seats against specific opponents, how come that information wasn’t on any of the voting guides? Was the poll worker wrong and I could have selected more than one name in a horizontal roll? Informed answers please!

    • That is a shame that the poll worker gave you that advice. The horizontal rows mean nothing — you can vote for any nine people anywhere on that section of the ballot. You don’t have to vote for nine, but you can vote for up to that many. And you cannot vote for the same person on multiple ballot lines; that will only count as one vote.

      • Thank you for this reply. I should have trusted my instincts. I wrote in the three names of the folks I wanted, so perhaps they’ll be matched up and my votes for them will count. Next time I’ll know.

  8. This was a helpful, but limited article. I’m glad you are addressing this element of our ballot at all. However, I think there are some deeper questions: Who puts these candidates up for nomination and what is that process? How transparent is that process? Does it make sense AT ALL for the electorate to select a judge (I, for one, do not feel at all qualified to make that selection and so I never vote for judges; I would prefer a clear, transparent process for some representative body to do this, as we do for federal judges and supreme court justices, for example.) Why do we vote for some judicial positions and not for others? ie what is the history of this? What do legal scholars think of this process? What is done in other countries in terms of selecting judges? What is the role of “machine ” politics in this whole process? My understanding, for example, is that in the Bronx, it is the Democratic Party machine that makes the nominations. On my ballot there were only uncontested judges running. That doesn’t seem like a real choice to me….. Thanks for all the great work you all do.

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