On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the Queens Daily Eagle reported that the Queens County Bar Association had rated one of the Democratic candidates vying for an upcoming vacancy on the prestigious Surrogate’s Court bench as “not approved” for the seat.

Wendy Li, a civil court judge who currently sits in Manhattan, received the lowest rating from the local bar association – which evaluates judicial hopefuls running in Queens each election season. In contrast, Queens Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Johnson – the only other Democrat in the race – was deemed “qualified” by the QCBA.

The article notes that Johnson has also been endorsed by the influential Queens County Democratic Party, whose preferred picks have traditionally held positions on the Surrogate’s Court. However, Li styles herself as an insurgent challenger for one of the most coveted judicial roles in the borough.

Unsurprisingly, Li blasted the QCBA’s decision as “a miscarriage of justice” against her reputation of fairness, ethics, and efficiency built over six years serving in various courts including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. She argued that her credentials, character and work ethic far outweigh any “predetermined political rating” aiming to entrench the control of Queens’ political establishment.

In contrast, Johnson welcomed the QCBA’s approval, saying it validates her commitment to properly administer the law and serve the public with integrity. The article outlines Johnson’s rapid rise through Queens’ judiciary since first being elected to the Civil Court in 2021, before becoming the first Haitian-American woman named to the state Supreme Court last year.

Aside from Li outraising Johnson in campaign donations, the piece details the candidates’ differing backgrounds. It also provides context on the Surrogate’s Court’s role, the bar association’s rating process, and Hiram Monserrate’s influence in backing non-establishment candidates – some successfully, others not. With ethics-limited campaigning, the QCBA rating serves as a main indicator for voters in deciding between Li and Johnson ahead of this consequential election for Queens’ Democratic Party.



Source: Queens Daily Eagle