I have known Marian Tinari for 39 years. Regardless of our muddled system for electing judges, she is one of the most qualified candidates to sit on District Court and is well qualified for the higher courts in the county as well [“The making of a judge, Long Island-style,” News, July 31].
Having sat on the Suffolk County Bar Association’s judicial screening committee, and being frequently asked to comment on New York State and federal appointees, I can say Tinari has all the qualifications a screening group looks for in a candidate.
That said, the entire election system of judges is not working or workable. I say this from the perspective of having litigated all the way to the Court of Appeals in an attempt to restore Suffolk residents’ right to pick our own district attorney. There is no way voters can fill judge positions in a responsible way.
When bar association committee members, who number more than 20, interview judicial candidates, they frequently walk into the room as total strangers to the committee. Other than the rough screening done by the bar association, there is no system of qualifications or avenue for a voter to get to know candidates. The bare-minimum legal qualifications for the job do not screen out the unqualified candidates nor identify those who are highly qualified.
It’s time we adopted the systems used by the state to fill the Court of Appeals and by the federal government. When someone from the governor’s office contacts me to learn about the candidate, it’s someone I’ve had numerous cases before in the course of many years, and I’m well qualified to comment on his or her legal abilities and character. This is how judges should be selected, by a neutral committee evaluating real qualifications.
Even though a highly qualified candidate like Tinari occasionally slips through under the current process, it’s a failed system.
Maureen S. Hoerger, Islandia
Editor’s note: The writer has been a trial lawyer for 40 years.