As expected, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson was nominated without opposition for Justice of the Supreme Court by the delegates to the 12th Judicial District Convention held at the Eastwood Manor Thursday night.
In an acceptance speech that thanked Bronx Democratic party leader Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the judicial delegates and the people of the Bronx, Johnson gave a spirited defense of his decision to seek a judgeship after securing the party nomination for district attorney earlier this month.
Pushing back against allegations that his job swap was part of a political deal with Bronx Democratic party leaders, Johnson declared “my action is honest and what I wanted.”
“[You] don’t resign a job without having a[nother] job,” Johnson said. If I had resigned before tonight, I would not have a job. If I resigned next year, I would not have a job.”
Mr. Johnson will not have to resign from his current office to run for the State Supreme Court. Recently, former Staten Island district attorney Dan Donovan successfully ran for Congress without having to resign his post.
Johnson told the ballroom full of delegates, elected officials, party activists, and media that he deserved to continue to serve the community and to continue the pursuit of justice on their behalf.
Johnson said being district attorney isn’t about “won-lost records — this is not baseball.” He cited public safety statistics showing crimes like violent crime and auto theft decreased 94% since becoming district attorney in 1990. He asserted that he fought crime “without sacrificing people’s constitutional rights” in the process.
A small group of protesters held a news conference outside of the meeting. Attorney Hebert Moreira Brown and East Bronx activist Egidio Sementelli complained to reporters about the judicial convention proceedings. They said the election of the judicial delegates had not been certified by the NYC Board of Elections.
Lewis Goldstein, a Johnson supporter, released a statement saying, “There are always those who prefer to be on the outside throwing stones, chanting, and picketing. They have that right.”
Earlier in Thursday evening, Associate Justices Sallie Manzanet-Daniels and Dianne T. Renwick (also Mr. Johnson’s spouse) were re-nominated for a second fourteen year term. The remaining three supreme court vacancies were filled by elevating judges of the civil court Mitch Danziger, Lizbeth Gonzalez, and Ruben Franco.
Judge Ruben Franco is a former executive director of LatinoJustice Inc. (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) and former chairman of the NYC Housing Authority during the Giuliani era.
And as expected Associate Justice Darcel Clark was picked by the Bronx Democrats to take Robert Johnson’s place on the November ballot for District Attorney. Under Office of Court Administration rules, Clark will have to resign her judgeship to run for Bronx District Attorney.
Marsha Michael, a former candidate for Assembly, was selected by the Bronx Democrats Executive Committee to replace Hon. Mitch Danzinger on the November ballot for Civil Court.
Sources say that the various certificates of nominations and declinations will filed today.
The general election is in six weeks on Tuesday, November 3.
NOTE: This post has been updated to include excerpts of Mr. Johnson’s acceptance speech. [09252015-18:49]