The Nassau County Bar Association has declined to approve State Supreme Court candidate Anna Anzalone, who is endorsed by both major political parties in the Nov. 4 election.
Anzalone was cross-endorsed by the Democratic and Republican parties on Sept. 18. Two days earlier, the bar association notified Anzalone and the Republican Party, which had sponsored her, of its decision, said association president John P. McEntee.
In a news release on Oct. 1, the association labeled three other state Supreme Court candidates "well qualified," but listed Anzalone, a Nassau District Court judge, as "not approved at this time." He declined to comment on the timing of the news release.
The major party cross endorsement deal breaks a "long-standing tradition" of not placing judges on the ballot who aren't approved by the bar association, McEntee said.
"We're disappointed," that the parties departed from the practice with Anzalone's nomination, McEntee said.
Anzalone, a Republican who heads the county's veterans court program, did not return messages left at her office or with her secretary.
McEntee would not detail specific concerns about Anzalone because the vetting process is confidential. "It was not based upon any concern about integrity," he said.
The bar association's 21-member bipartisan Judicial Committee interviews potential nominees, and attorneys and judges who work with them, before the major parties choose candidates.
McEntee said this is the first time in about a decade that a candidate found to be less than qualified was put on the ballot.
Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello, who nominated Anzalone, was not available for an interview Tuesday or Wednesday, a party spokesman said. In a statement, Mondello called Anzalone "a well-respected jurist with an outstanding reputation."Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said he was unaware of the bar association's rating before making the cross endorsement deal in mid-September, but is still comfortable with the pick.
"This came at the recommendation and request of chairman Mondello, and I respect that," he said. "Every indication that I have from those who know her is that she's a very talented and formidable individual."
Anzalone was elected to District Court in 2003. The Nassau County Bar Association also did not deem her qualified then.
The Suffolk County Bar Association has a similar arrangement with political leaders to review potential judicial nominees. All the Suffolk judicial candidates -- Sandra L. Sgroi, Thomas F. Whalen and A. Gail Prudenti -- were deemed "qualified," said Suffolk County Bar Association executive director Sarah Jane LaCova.
Mondello and Jacobs agreed last month to support two Nassau Republicans, Anzalone and County Court Judge Angelo Delligatti, and Democratic District Court Judge Sharon Gianelli.
The Nassau County Bar Association found Delligatti, Gianelli and Michele Woodard, who is endorsed by the Working Families Party and the Independence Party, to be well qualified.
The deal was aimed primarily at reigning in Suffolk Conservative chairman Edward Walsh, who has wielded significant influence in picking judges, Newsday has reported.