Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant is one of the likely Democratic nominees for Queens Supreme Court, Civil Term, sources say. // Eagle file photo

These Are the Likely Democratic Nominees for Queens Supreme Court, Sources Say

Ahead of Thursday’s County Democratic party judicial convention, where party delegates will vote on the party’s nominees for Queens Supreme Court, Civil Term, two sources confirmed the four judges who will be nominated.

The nominees are Civil Court Judge Maureen Healy, Civil Court Judge Larry Love, Civil Court Judge Robert Caloras and Civil Court Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant, the sources said.

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Justice Jeremy Weinstein, administrative judge of the Queens County Supreme County, Civil Term. // Photo courtesy of Civil Court

For Judge Weinstein, Pride Comes In ‘Making Things Works’

State Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Weinstein, the administrative judge in the Queens County Civil term, has accomplished a tremendous amount in his nearly 25 years on the bench.

Weinstein created a dedicated Matrimonial Part to address issues related to child support, visitation and related financial issues. He oversaw the development of a Foreclosure Part and a free Uncontested Matrimonial Clinic, where people receive assistant in uncontested divorces with no property, support or custody issues.

He even got the city to repair the civil courthouse’s broken elevator system that had long forced staff and litigants to climb several flights of stairs just to have their day in court.

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Eric Allen, president of the Association of Surrogates and Supreme Court Reporters, addresses a class of Plaza College Court Reporting students. // Photo courtesy of Plaza College

New Plaza College Class Begins Quest For 225 Words

Classes began at Plaza College in Forest Hills on Monday and for a crop of first-year students, that meant encountering a new and potentially lucrative device: the stenotype machine.

As many current court reporters near retirement, court reporting has become an in-demand job. As such, even new court reporters fresh out of training programs can earn close to six-figure salaries.

But first, students  must attain a writing rate of 225-words per minute on the 22-key stenotype machine, a tool that differs significantly from a typical QWERTY keyboard.

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Council Member Rory Lancman debated Assistant District Attorney James Quinn on the future of Rikers Island Wednesday. // Eagle photo by David Brand 

Lancman, Legal Aid Condemn ADA’s Browder Comments

In the days since Council Member Rory Lancman and Queens Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney James Quinn debated about the future of Rikers Island, one specific exchange about Kalief Browder has garnered national attention.

While defending the proposal to close jails on Rikers Island and open four “borough-based” jails, Lancman — a potential candidate in the 2019 Queens DA race — frequently described how the bail system keeps low-income defendants in detention simply because they cannot afford to the pay bail.

He cited the experience of Browder, a 16-year-old from the Bronx who was arrested for stealing a backpack and held on Rikers for three years — including two in solitary confinement — because he could not afford to pay bail. Ultimately, Browder’s C Felony charges were dismissed.

Two years after his release, Browder committed suicide.

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State Sen. Michael Gianaris of Astoria. Photo courtesy of Michael Gianaris.

Gianaris Bill Mandates More Frequent Lead Testing at Schools and Parks

State Sen. Michael Gianaris introduced a bill on Sept. 4 that would mandate more frequent lead inspections of sinks and water fountains at schools and — for the first time — parks across the state.

The proposed legislation comes after NYCHA revealed that at least 1160 children have tested positive for lead poisoning after encountering lead-contaminated paint in their apartments. Lead paint chips have flaked off stanchions along the No. 7 line and cities throughout the country — most notably Flint, Michigan — have grappled with lead contamination in their water infrastructure.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is inviting people to request conviction dismissals for offense his office no longer prosecutes. // AP Photo

Brooklyn DA Could Erase 20,000 Pot Convictions, Brown Will ‘Review’

Tens of thousands of low-level marijuana convictions could be erased with the approval of Brooklyn’s top prosecutor, under a new plan for wiping records clean of offenses that are no longer prosecuted in the borough.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is inviting people to request conviction dismissals. He said he expects prosecutors will consent in the great majority of a potential 20,000 cases since 1990 and an unknown number of older ones.

Gonzalez told the Associated Press that it is only right to nix convictions that his office would not pursue today.

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Bronx County Criminal Court Supervising Judge George Grasso. // Eagle Photo by Paula Katinas

Bronx Judge Who Pioneered Incarceration Alternatives Content on the Bench, Source Says

A Bronx criminal court judge with Queens connections is the latest leader to reportedly consider a run for Queens district attorney in 2019.

The New York Law Journal reported that George Grasso, the supervising judge of the Bronx Criminal Court has begun to consider a run for Queens District Attorney in 2019.

The report cited an unnamed source familiar with the “Queens policial scene.”

Office of Court Administration spokesperson Lucian Chalfen declined to speculate on Grasso’s future plans.

“Any discussion regarding Judge Grasso and a campaign for Queens County District Attorney is premature,” Chalfen told the Eagle. “Along with being focused on supervising the Criminal Court in the Bronx, Judge Grasso is the point person in the expansion of the highly successful opioid avoidance and recovery part he pioneered in the Bronx.”

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