On Thursday, April 18, 2024, WXXI News reported that former Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s judicial campaign could be cut short due to a legal challenge filed against her.

Local lawyer and opponent Mike Geraci filed a complaint with the court accusing Warren of violating election law regarding her petition to run for the seats of City Court judge and Monroe County Democratic Committee member. State rules prohibit judicial candidates from simultaneously seeking political office while running for a judgeship, given the need for impartiality.

According to Geraci’s complaint, the two positions Warren has filed for – City Court Justice and county Democratic committee member – are deemed “incompatible” under election law. He claims she circulated petitions to run for both seats at the same time.

As the article explained, judicial races have additional safeguards put in place compared to typical political elections. Judges are meant to remain neutral and impartial, which is why judicial hopefuls cannot make personal donations to candidates or political events, for example.

Geraci cited a 1999 case from Suffolk County as a legal precedent to remove Warren from the judge ballot. That case involved a woman named Ann Spelman who attempted to run for both a town judgeship and a Republican county committee seat at once. She recognized she could not hold both positions simultaneously but thought running for both was allowed.

However, the Court of Appeals determined Spelman had to be removed from both races. Their decision noted that even if she resigned from one role, the “policy concerns” over impartiality would still apply. According to the complaint against Warren, this 1999 decision provides a clear standard that Warren’s name should similarly be stricken from running for incompatible seats on the same ballot.

It remains to be seen how the court will rule on Geraci’s challenge against Warren. But it demonstrates the additional scrutiny judicial hopefuls face and could potentially cut short Warren’s comeback attempt after leaving office as Rochester’s mayor in 2021.



Source: WXXI News