Letters

 LONG ARM OF THE LAWLESS

Re: Tom Robbins's 'Benchwarmers' [July 25–31]: While I would agree with Robbins that most New Yorkers really don't care about how judges are selected, I do believe that most of them expect judges to be fair and honest. Which is why the appointment of Jonathan Lippman, a career Office of Court Administration bureaucrat with no real judicial experience, as presiding justice of the Appellate Division's First Department is troubling. Lippman used his control of court-system resources when he was chief administrative judge as a political tool to broker himself a cross-endorsement that guaranteed his election to the state Supreme Court in 2005. In 2006, he was appointed as an appellate judge. And in 2007, he was appointed as presiding justice of the First Department. Now he stands poised to replace Judith Kaye as chief judge when she retires next year. His meteoric rise through the judicial ranks is unprecedented in this state and extraordinary, since he has never tried a case as either a lawyer or a judge. A few months ago, Lippman's longtime assistant, Ann Pfau, was appointed to replace him as state chief administrative judge. Like Lippman, Pfau is an inexperienced career bureaucrat masquerading as a judge. She is Lippman's version of Harriet Miers: an obedient lapdog with a law degree. The appointment of these two bureaucrats to key judicial posts is proof that our courts have been co-opted by politically ambitious hacks who are clearly running the system for their own best interests. They have created a double standard of justice that benefits political insiders at the expense of the public, who foot the annual multibillion-dollar bill. Anywhere else, this would be a crime and the perpetrators would be hauled off to prison, but under current management at the New York State courts, it's business as usual. Who says that crime doesn't pay?

Charles Compton
The Bronx

Robbins's article is one of the most important stories of the year. The appointment of a presiding justice is particularly important, because the Appellate Divisions are the last appeal for 99 percent of all cases here in the city—more so when seen as a way to get an inexperienced judge appointed to the Court of Appeals. It is odd that Spitzer, a man who proudly sports his ethics, would consider selecting Judge Lippman, a man with a proven record of ethical indifference. As the state's administrative judge, Lippman was the sole person authorized to appoint and discipline housing judges. With the Housing Court Advisory Council—mainly a collection of landlord lawyers, all of whose members were appointed by Lippman—pretending to be a merit-selection process, he would appoint and reappoint the most unethical housing judges this state has ever seen. He is a nightmare waiting to happen. Would the ethics-enforcement arms of the Appellate Division benefit from having a PJ with an absolute record of ethical indifference? As PJ, he would deliver the deathblow to any ethical precepts that Pataki judges have left alive. Every act of corruption, every ethical violation, and every abuse of New York's tenants is his under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

Ronin Amano
Manhattan


UPCHUCK

I can think of one thing that Nathan Lee has exercised the right to shove up his ass: his head. That's obviously where it is, judging by his review of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry [ 'Queer as Folk,' July 18–24]. I've never been more offended by a movie than this one. Lee admits that the repeated use of the word "faggot" stings like "kike," but still pulls off this quasi-positive review? I'm thankful that only a small number of reviewers—outside of the most backwoods towns—have given this trash any positive recognition at all. It's completely homophobic. How can Lee miss that? Maybe they'll follow it up with a hilariously stereotypical comedy about gay bashing! How's this for a title: He Was Only Hospitalized for a Week! I've never been more let down by the Voice. Ever.

David Maddux
Via e-mail


HELL, COLUMBIA

Re Laura Conaway's piece on Columbia's open campus, 'Rolling Admission' [July 25–31]: The issue was once all about who could reside in Morningside Heights, not just stroll across the quad. As an undergraduate in the early '60s, I was part of an effort to maintain the neighborhood's diversity in the face of the university's aggressive real estate forays. We were told as freshmen that we were part of Columbia College in the City of New York, not an ivory-tower enclave. I lived off-campus and had two Puerto Rican roommates unaffiliated with Columbia. It was part of the richness of my education. Of course, Columbia's policies—particularly in regard to the proposed gym in Morningside Park—led to the historic strike of 1968.

Michael Nolan
San Francisco, California

I now see why the Voice has become so degraded. I've been using the Columbia libraries for several years, and the idea of "homeless people" in Butler Library (the main library) is just ridiculous. There is a guard at the entrance who checks everybody's ID before they gain entrance. In all of the other libraries, you have to swipe your card to gain admittance. My only question: Why are you providing PR for the university? Now there's a topic for an investigative reporter.

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