Democratic Party bars ‘lazy’ pro-LGBT judge from election ticket
Appellate Term Justice Doris Ling-Cohan
Photo: Don Halasy
A Manhattan judge who is considered a hero in the LGBT community has been barred from running on the Democratic ticket, a move that virtually dooms her re-election prospects in November.
The county Democratic Party’s judicial screening panel took the highly unusual step Tuesday night of not reapproving the judge, Appellate Term Justice Doris Ling-Cohan.
“Attached is a copy of the 2016 Supreme Court Independent Judicial Screening Panel Report. You will note that Judge Doris Ling-Cohan is not on the list of incumbent judges found to Merit Continuation In Office,” Curtis Arluck and Louise Dankberg, chair and co-chair of the party’s judiciary committee, said in an email to party officials Wednesday night.
The panel found the judge was “lazy,” and “slow” in handling her caseload, multiple sources said.
“For a sitting New York County justice not to be reappointed is a first, to my knowledge,” said Dankberg.
“This is very unusual. This is a shocker — you’ve told me shocking news,” said longtime Manhattan judicial blogger and watchdog Alan Flacks.
Two years ago, the Chinatown-raised Ling-Cohan became the first woman of Asian descent in the state to be appointed to an appellate court; in 2002 she became the first Asian woman to be elected to state Supreme Court.
But she is best known for her decision, in a five-couple class-action suit in 2005, to approve the right of same-sex couples to marry. She was the first trial judge in the state to do so, though her decision was quickly reversed on appeal.
Rejecting Ling-Cohan was “a slap in the face” to the LGBT community, said gay Democratic district leader Allen Roskoff.
“Judge Ling-Cohan is a great judge,” Roskoff said. “She is a hero and needs to be championed and revered.”
Typically, the party rubber-stamps an incumbent judge’s re-election.
But sources told The Post that the screening panel’s membership of nearly two dozen Manhattan lawyers and legal association reps turned thumbs down on Ling-Cohan out of a consensus that she was a lackluster judge.
“Somebody had it in for her, and there were five Asian-Americans on the panel who did not speak out for her,” said one expert with knowledge of the decision.
Ling-Cohan’s reputation is “as one of the worst judges — non-productive, lazy, not hard-working, disorganized, takes a lot of time off, late with decisions,” the source said.
When she moved up to the Appellate Term in 2014, she left behind a Supreme Court backlog of hundreds of unfinished cases and undecided motions, said another source.
Still another source said that two or three votes were taken Tuesday night, “to try to persuade people to change their vote” and approve her — but the efforts failed.
“It’s a s—ty thing to do this to a sitting judge,” that source added. “It’s an unwritten rule that you really don’t find a sitting judge all of a sudden after 14 years unqualified, unless they’re an ax murderer or a pedophile.”
Ling-Cohan did not respond Wednesday night to email and phone messages requesting comment.
In July, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge with 25 years’ experience on the bench was similarly found unqualified by a Democratic Party judicial screening panel in that borough.
That judge, Justice Laura Jacobson, has vowed to appeal the decision.