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Justice Ralph Costello NY Supreme Court

October 8, 2010 @ 12:00 am EDT


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As usual we learned something new at LIMBA. Our speaker, NY Supreme Court Justice, Ralph Costello was a departure from our usual roster of speakers.

The judge began by explaining the term of the court, 14 years, and that in this jurisdiction the position is an elected post. In other jusdications it can vary. In some cases the original term is appointed and to get a new term you must be elected. And in still others the first and subsequent terms are appointed. Methods can vary. For example the city of New York can and does have a different system than Suffolk. They appoint their judges.

When running for elction the rules are different than other public officials. A judge candidate cannot directly solicit campaign funds. If he needs funds he has a committee that solicits funds, and he is not privy to who those donors are. This is a little silly since these donor records are public documents. He pointed out that in Las Vegas donors can push a wheel barrow full of cash into a judicial candidates office, and that would be OK. Well…..it is Vegas.

Judges have received no pay increases in about 10 years, and until very recently they were not permitted to work outside of the courtroom. Even now they would’nt be able to work in "demeaning" occupations. They can write books, and that is something that they could always do even under the old rules

The Supreme Court is able to hear cases of all nature. Cases involved in environment, construction, medical liability and negligence are all heard in Supreme Court. However cases involving small sums (under $25,000) are not heard. This is different than specialized courts.

When asked to endorse the candidate for office political parties are not permitted to ask about his feelings on issues . This is a refreshing departure from the candidate questioning of a United States Supreme court nomination. In that case the candidate must dance around every question.

During the Q&A there were many questions indicating that audience was keyed in and interested

Todays meeting was sponsored by the New York Islanders Hockey club – Door prizes were given out and some lucky people went home with openning night seats in a luxury booth and oters went home with regular in season tickets. Thanks to Mike Meinardus and the Islanders.