The Judge in the Purple Plastic Gloves

Clarence Norman's Latest Pick for Supreme Court

The race that year for surrogate was a particularly bitter battle between forces loyal to former assemblyman Tony Genovesi, the late leader of the Thomas Jefferson Club, who backed Gold, and those allied with Norman, whose candidate was Michael Feinberg, the eventual winner.

Gold, then a little-known Civil Court judge, stunned Brooklyn pols, first by jumping into the race and later with her massive fundraising. Gold's campaign was initially funded by a $475,000 loan made by a man named Marcus Kohn who lived in Montreal. Gold's campaign filings listed only a bank address for Kohn. The immense loan was the talk of Court Street, and repeated attempts by reporters at the time to reach the mysterious Kohn were unsuccessful.

Contributions, however, quickly began to roll in, many of them from businesses owned by or associated with operators of nursing homes and construction and building-material companies based in the heavily Orthodox neighborhoods of Borough Park and Williamsburg. A key fundraiser for Gold was businessman Leon Perlmutter, also a top money man for Governor Pataki.

Throughout the campaign, Gold ducked press inquiries about her funding, refusing to respond to messages left at home and with her office.

This campaign, Gold also isn't talking—much.

Last Friday, the judge was seated in Part AP-4, a near-empty room on the sixth floor of Brooklyn's criminal courthouse on Schermerhorn Street. She wore a deep scowl on her face and a pair of bright-purple latex gloves on her hands. Without looking up from her desk, she quickly remanded two shackled defendants brought before her.

When a reporter sat down in the courtroom, she sent an officer to ask what he wanted. Told he was seeking an interview, she had the reporter brought before her. She then peeled off the plastic gloves and pleasantly said that she wasn't permitted to talk about anything. "OCA [the Office of Court Administration] has a mask of silence over me," she said, passing her hand over her face. She was asked if she intended to seek a Supreme Court nomination. "I am running for Civil Court and that's it," she said. Then she smiled and added, "According to the rules, I can only run for one office at a time."

As for the gloves, she said that she uses them on a doctor's advice due to "contact dermatitis." It isn't necessary to wear them outside, she said. "Only in here, you see it's very dirty around here," said the judge. "You'll notice that the officers wear them too, when they're handling prisoners," she added.

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