2007_01_stamps.jpgThe Village Voice's Wayne Barrett has the scoop on a big case Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes is working on: How disgraced former Brooklyn Democratic party boss Clarence Norman managed to buy a State Supreme Court judgeship for $56,000. Fifty thousand in cash and then $6,000 in stamps ("$3,000 wheels of stamps on sprockets that could be purchased at a General Post Office"). Barrett writes, "When the disturbing details become fully known, Hynes's stunning prosecution may at last force the state legislature to junk the peculiar way New York State nominates the 14-year-term, $136,700-a-year judges who preside at all felony and major civil trials, as a federal court has already concluded we should."

Some details: Judge Howard Ruditzsky was elevated from Civil Court to State Supreme Court in 2001, thanks to these payments. Norman Chesler, Ruditzky's cousin, is accused of paying off Norman, who was convicted in 2005 of accepting illegal campaign contributions. Apparently Chesler cooperated with Brooklyn DA Hynes's "after he was indicted in two no-fault car insurance scams by then state attorney general Eliot Spitzer's office." Also, indicted judge Michael Garson cooperated with the DA's office and wore a wire during conversations with Ruditzky; Garson himself was put on the bench by Norman, as was his cousin Gerry and Gerry's wife Robin.

We recommend reading the lengthy article, because it illustrates how corrupt the Norman-era Democratic party was. The Voice also has an article about "How Barrett Got That Story," noting the dedication Barrett and his mentor Jack Newfield had to digging for a story.