MCBA Rates Taddeo Not Qualified For State Supreme Court Seat

  • 5/25/2004
  • Jill Miller
  • VLSP
  • Source: New York > Rochester / Finger Lakes

Former Monroe County Family Court judge and current Republican candidate for New York State Supreme Court, Ann Marie Taddeo, has received a not qualified rating from the Monroe County Bar Association.

The MCBA released its evaluations of the judicial candidates for State Supreme Court and Monroe County Court late last week. Two seats are open on both the Supreme Court and County Court benches. The other candidates for State Supreme Court bench received the following ratings:

• Monroe County Family Court Judge Gail Donofrio (Republican), qualified;
• Monroe County Court Judge Frank Geraci (Democrat), highly qualified;
• Supreme Court Judge Thomas Stander (Republican), highly qualified.
The candidates for Monroe County Court received the following ratings:
• Monroe County Court Judge John Connell (Democrat), highly qualified;
• Irondequoit Town Judge John DeMarco (Republican), qualified; and
• Monroe County Court Judge Patricia Marks (Democrat), qualified.

Each year the MCBA rates the judicial candidates in order to give the public a better understanding of each candidate's qualifications and experience.

"The public has a very hard task," said Bryan Hetherington, chair of the Judicial Committee. "We conduct the evaluations each year to give the public a better understanding of each candidate so they can make their own decision on Election day."

This year candidate evaluations were conducted under a new three-tiered rating system. Candidates are now rated highly qualified, qualified or not qualified.

In the past candidates received one of two ratings - recommended or not recommended. The bar association revamped its process in an effort to provide a more thorough and impartial evaluation of each candidate.

"The new process was professionally developed after a great deal of study," explained Hetherington. "We believe that it is a thorough and impartial process."

The Evaluation Process

The new process is twofold. The first part consists of a peer evaluation. Attorneys from Monroe County are invited to participate either by filling out an electronic or hard copy survey form. Attorneys who have had significant professional contact with the candidate are asked to complete the survey.

Attorneys are asked to rate the candidates in three key areas - legal knowledge and ability; integrity and temperament; and diligence. The responses are reviewed carefully and studied for any inconsistency.

"The Judicial Committee has the ability to overturn the findings if they feel they are biased or prejudicial," explained Carolyn Nussbaum, vice chair of the Judicial Committee. "If you look at the results they are clear. There is not political bias. Candidates from both the Republican and Democrat party received highly qualified and qualified ratings."

Judge Stander received the highest number of responses with approximately 375 attorneys filling out an evaluation form. Rated highly qualified, Judge Stander scored in the 90s on all survey questions.

Taddeo received approximately 256 responses and scored a 60 percent on the question of demeanor. In order to receive a qualified rating, Taddeo needed to score above a 66 percent.

Candidates rated qualified scored in the 70s and 80s.

The new process also includes an in-depth interview and research process. During this stage, members of the Judicial Committee conducted in-depth interviews, reviewed the candidate's legal writings and conducted reference checks.

Candidates who received a not qualified rating have an opportunity to appeal the finding to the MCBA's Board of Trustees or withdraw their candidacy before the results are made public. Taddeo appealed the finding but the result was upheld by the trustees.

"The Board of Trustees look for procedural violations," explained MCBA President June Castellano. "For example, was there manipulations in the survey or illogical results. The trustees did not find any procedural violations."

Taddeo received a qualified rating from the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys. In addition, the MCBA has rated Taddeo recommended in the past.