Suffolk Family Court Judge Marlene Budd has failed to get a qualified rating from the Suffolk County Bar Association to run for re-election this fall, according to several high-level political party sources.
The bar's 24-member judicial selection committee made the decision about Budd, who is finishing her first 10-year term and is serving as an acting state Supreme Court justice, following a screening Tuesday night.
Bar association president William T. Ferris III and screening committee chairman Michael Levine declined to comment, and Budd did not return calls. The bar association's action comes after Budd, a former Huntington Town Board member and the estranged wife of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), last week was renominated for Family Court at the county Democratic convention in Hauppauge.
The action by the bar association, which routinely screens judicial candidates, is potentially significant because Suffolk Democrats in the past have declined to support candidates not found qualified by the lawyers' group, which has at times been criticized for its own internal politics.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said he had received no notification from the bar association. But he said: "We will respect the bar association. We will only run candidates who have been found qualified."
Budd, 49, of South Setauket, had sought in 2011 to run for state Supreme Court, but withdrew from consideration after appearing before the bar screening committee. Neither the bar association nor Budd would disclose the screening results, which remain confidential.
Judicial candidates can request a rehearing within 48 hours to provide additional evidence or respond to specific issues raised in the first screening. A judicial candidate then can appeal within five days to the bar's board of directors.
However, stricter new bylaws, revised last year, say "no determination of the committee shall be reversed" without "clear and convincing evidence" that the original decision was "arbitrary, capricious or not supported by a rational basis."
The bar's action comes as Budd and Israel, married since 2003, are involved in a divorce case. A spokesman for Israel had no comment.
Also found not qualified by the bar association, according to sources, was Assemb. Al Graf (R-Holbrook), who had been seeking the Islip GOP nomination for District Court. Islip GOP officials Wednesday night gave District Court nominations to town board member Anthony Senft, a Conservative, and Town Attorney Robert Cicale and John Schettino. Graf did not return calls for comment.
Last year, the Nassau County Bar Association failed to find District Court Judge Anna Anzalone qualified for state Supreme Court, who had already had received major party endorsements.She ran and was elected. The bar association had found Anzalone unqualified in 2003, but found her qualified for re-election in 2009.
When Anzalone reached the retirement age of 70, John Ryan, chairman of the Nassau GOP law committee, said she went to the Suffolk Bar Association to be certified so she could continue to work another two years as a judge.