Brooklyn Cases Stir Judicial Corruption Debate

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Judge Gerald Garson of Brooklyn was arrested last spring on charges of accepting “money and gifts in exchange for giving preferential treatment” to a lawyer. This week, he was named in a bribery charge, the Christian Science Monitor says. The Monitor says the case is part of a “full investigation into judicial corruption and into the borough’s Democratic machine” that is “expected to overhaul judicial selection in New York, and perhaps provide a model for reform nationwide.”

Watchdog groups consider Brooklyn one of the nation’s most corrupt judicial systems. The Democratic Party controls judicial selection.

In states like Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Alabama, and Missouri, spending increases in local judicial races, by special-interest groups are prompting calls for reform. “No state is safe,” says Bert Brandenburg of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that works to keep courts fair and impartial. “Because if an interest group decides to win the bench, all they have to do is write a check and that state’s politics are going to change.”

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office now has 10 lawyers, six financial investigators, and more than a dozen detectives investigating whether judgeships are up for sale.


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