Manhattan Democrats Press Release on Results of August 5, 2021 Judicial Convention


August 6, 2021

Last night the New York County Democrats gathered to nominate two fantastic jurists, Judge Margaret Chan and Judge John “J.J.” Kelley, for the New York State Supreme Court for the First Judicial District. Opened by County Leader Keith L.T. Wright, chaired by New York County Democratic Committee Chair Domenico Minerva, and organized by Executive Director Kyle Ishmael, Law Chair Darren Marks, and District Leader Arthur Schwartz, the Convention required significant logistics to verify attendees’ vaccination status and stagger check-in to minimize the amount of time necessary for the over 180 Delegates and Alternate Delegates to spend indoors. We would also like to thank our host, the School of Visual Arts Theater, for accommodating these logistical needs.

The Convention nominated Acting Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan for the first vacancy. Judge Chan has both been reported out of the New York County Democratic Party’s Independent Judicial Screening Panel twice as highly qualified and been found highly qualified by the Independent Judicial Commission. Having been on the bench for 14 years, Judge Chan has extensive experience over her 9 years as an Acting Supreme Court Justice overseeing complex cases and trials, and is well-known for her important, well-reasoned, and clear written decisions in important cases that have been repeatedly upheld by the Appellate Division. As an immigrant from Hong Kong who has made New York her home for nearly 50 years and who began her career as an immigration attorney working with Ben Gim, the first Asian American attorney to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Chan is an exemplar of the commitment to merit, character, and diversity that Manhattan Democrats look for in their New York State Supreme Court Justices.

For the second vacancy, the Convention nominated Acting Supreme Court Justice JJ Kelley. Reported out twice by the New York Democratic Party’s Independent Judicial Screening Panel as highly qualified, Judge Kelley has served as a jurist for 17 years, serving as an Acting Supreme Court Justice since 2018. As an Acting Supreme Court Justice, he presided over 58 complex jury trials before COVID and has completed 5 jury trials since COVID began and made such trials even more complex. A former volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, his calm, capable, but affable court demeanor continue to support New York County’s reputation for the electing the most meritorious and civic-minded jurists to handle the legal disputes that New Yorkers find themselves bringing before our courts.

While we are thrilled to put forth such highly-qualified and meritorious nominees, we were disappointed and dismayed that the New York State Legislature has not allowed for virtual meetings since it repealed the Governor’s emergency powers and the Governor declared an end to the pandemic emergency on June 24th. With COVID cases once again on the rise due to the Delta variant, bodies such as the New York County Democratic Committee’s Judicial Convention need the option to conduct business remotely to reduce the risk of large gatherings to the health of the public and to our members, especially those who are immunocompromised or have pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID infection. We call on the Legislature and Governor to temporarily amend the Open Meetings Law or allow for an executive order doing the same so that organizations across the state can conduct business virtually once again as infections rise and the risk to New Yorkers’ increases.

The New York County Democratic Committee is the official home for Manhattan Democrats. The livestream of the Convention can be found on our Facebook page at


5/22/16 Executive Board Meeting Recap

This past Sunday, May 22, the County Executive Board met to endorse candidates in the primary election for Civil Court Judge and approve the Party Call.

Civil Court Endorsements
Josh Hanshaft Esq. and Emily Morales-Minerva Esq. have received the endorsement of the NY County Party for the Countywide Civil Court vacancies.

They will run in the upcoming primary with the support of the Democratic Clubs and county organization which will help them petition and turn out voters for their win.

Should they win the primary, they will then proceed to the general election as the Democratic candidate.

The Party Call
The “Party Call” lists all of the available Judicial Delegate, Judicial Delegate Alternate and State Committee positions.These party positions will be elected during the Primary in September.

Judicial Delegates are proportional to the Democratic voter turnout (how many ppl vote for the Dem) in the last Gubernatorial election by district.

State Committee is two per Assembly District (Male and Female).

Meeting Live Tweets

2016 Civil Court Independent Judicial Screening Panel Report

On April 5, 2016, the Independent Judicial Civil Court Screening Panel met and began the process of screening candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for two (2) New York County-wide Civil Court vacancies, one vacancy in the 4th Civil Court District, and two incumbents in the 2nd and 4th Civil Court Districts, to be filled in the November 8, 2016 General Election. The following individuals were designated to the panel:

  • Albert Barruceco, Hispanic National Bar Association, Region II
  • Dana M. Catanzaro, Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Stacey Charland, Neighborhood Defenders Service of Harlem
  • Joshua Crespo, New York Urban League
  • Khalil El Assaad, New York Law School
  • Patricia Fersch, New York Women’s Bar Association
  • Alan Greenberg, Jewish Lawyer’s Guild
  • Irving Hirsch, City Bar Association of New York
  • Emily Hoffman, Community Service Society of New York
  • Chris Kwok, AABANY
  • Arnold Levine, Criminal Bar Association
  • Cynthia Liang Weaver, Asian Americans for Equality
  • David Oddo, New York State Trial Lawyers
  • Wanda Sanchez Day, Puerto Rican Bar Association
  • Chul Pak, Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
  • Karol Robinson, Association of Black Women Attorneys
  • Crystal Shipp, NAACP Mid Manhattan Branch
  • Asha Smith, Metropolitan Black Bar Association
  • Nasreen Syed, South Asian Bar Association of New York
  • Michael Weiner, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (Le-Gal)

On May 3, 2016, the Independent Judicial Screening Panel for Civil Court reported that the service of incumbents, Hon. Eileen Rakower in the 4th Civil Court District and Hon. Margaret Chan in the 2nd Civil Court District merit continuation. The Panel also reported the following candidates as most highly qualified for two (2) county-wide Civil Court vacancies and a single vacancy in the 4th Civil Court District:

  • Judy Kim, Esq.
  • Phaedra Perry Esq.
  • Josh Hanshaft Esq.
  • Emily Morales-Minerva Esq.
  • Robert Rosenthal Esq.
  • Nicholas Moyne Esq.
  • Shahabuddeen Ally Esq.

Thank you to the panel and its administrator, Lucas A Ferrara, Esq. for their diligent work.

Curtis Arluck and Louise Dankberg
Co-Chairs, Judiciary Committee

February 4th Judicial Committee Minutes

Chair: Curtis Arluck

Co Chair: Louise Dankberg

Membership: Each Assembly District may be represented by one of its District Leaders.

The Judicial Committee chooses organizations which designates members to a screening panel for judicial candidates. Organizations designate panelists, and panelists review judicial candidates, without party input.

I: Panel Administrator Search

  • Candidates

    • Past administrators have been contacted and the committee is awaiting responses. A new Administrator interview date/time will need to be set due to the delay.

    • Committee members are welcome to submit candidates for Administrator.

    • A three year layover is required for Administrators and panelists. They may not serve back to back sessions.

  • Resolution

    • A past Administrator was contacted mid-meeting and accepted the invitation to serve as Administrator again.

    • Since this candidate has served in the past, and most committee members are familiar with him, the Judicial Committee voted for an expedited interview process which would not require a meeting of the whole committee (though everyone is invited)

    • If approved name of the Administrator will be revealed in the official public notice for Judge Applicants in the Law Journal and on

    • The interview was tentatively scheduled for 2/10

II: Organization Outreach

  • Organizations which have agreed to designate a panelist

    • Asian Americans for Equality

    • Korean American Lawyers Assoc

    • LGBT Bar

    • Neighborhood Defenders of Harlem

    • NY State Defenders Assoc.

  • Organizations which have declined to designate a panelist

    • Columbia University Law School

  • All other organizations are pending a response

  • Requirement Review

    • At least 20 organizations should be represented

    • Organizations must be:

      • Non-profit

      • Sufficient affiliation with the County (Manhattan) (Usually satisfied by a local chapter)

      • Sufficient affiliation with the ideals of the Democratic Party

III: New Organization Applications

  • National Hispanic Bar Assoc.

    • Deputy VP Albert Barrueco, Attorney at Pepper Hamilton, addressed the committee

    • Organization wants to be considered for an invite to nominate a panelist

    • Local Chapter President is counsel to NYC Bar

    • Thousands of members nationally

    • Over one hundred members in the NYC area

  • Hispanic Bar invited by acclamation

IV: Organizational Designees

  • Alan Flacks submits Designee from Association of the Bar of City of New York (City Bar Assoc.)

  • Names of organization designees are not released prior to the convening of the panel to prevent lobbying by judicial applicants

V: Old Business (last week)

    • Committee voted to extend invitation to Nigerian Bar Assoc – but question: Does Nigerian bar have NY presence

      • Verified intent to invite Nigerian Lawyers Association not Nigerian Bar Association

      • Nigerian Lawyers Association found to have sufficient affiliation and invite extended by acclamation

    • Committee voted down extending invitation to National Bar Association (National African American bar)

      • The National Bar is represented in the NY region by Joseph Drayton

      • National Bar resubmitted by and voted up for extending an invitation by acclamation

VI: District vacancies in Judicial District 4, 6, 7

      • Judicial Screening Panels

        • District Leaders in the 6th, 7th and 9th are holding their own panels and soliciting groups for designees independently

          • The 9th is an incumbent judge and is non-competitive

        • The 4th is incorporating its screening panel with the County Independent Judicial Screening Panel

        • Judicial Applicants may go before multiple panels and all panels will use same application

VII: Current Timeline (subject to change)

    • 2/17 Law Journal and online Notice for Judicial applicants

    • 2/25 Designees appointed

    • 2/25 Applications begin being accepted

      • A unified application for all panels is suggested and agreed to

    • 3/9 Panel Convenes

    • 5/5 Panel reports out