Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, who has been in office since 1989, has announced that he's seeking a state Supreme Court judgeship. The news comes less than two weeks after Johnson won an uncontested Democratic primary, which is crucial because if Johnson becomes a judge, it means Democratic party bosses will choose who runs to replace him as top prosecutor, not Bronx voters. The corrupt-but-legal arrangement is in line with a reported scheme masterminded by Bronx boss-turned-Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie that was first said to be in the works in 2013.
Back then, Johnson told the New York Times, "I have no intention to leave office."
When rumors of the machinations made it to Page Six last month, a rep for Johnson's office said, "Rob Johnson is far from tired!"
Less than four weeks later, Johnson said in a statement, "It is a time for a change in my life. The judicial position will allow me to make a career move that provides the change that I seek without giving up public service."
Reports have emphasized that Johnson's office's conviction rate is less than 50 percent, far below that of other boroughs'. One popular interoperation of this statistic is that it means violent criminals are being allowed to walk because prosecutors aren't doing their homework. The office's caseload is also notoriously backlogged, and the conviction rate could also indicate that the office is habitually pursuing charges on flimsy evidence long after it should have dropped them, as it did in the case of Kalief Browder. Browder committed suicide after spending three years on Rikers Island on false charges that he robbed someone of a backpack.
Anonymous sources have told the Post and the Times that appeals judge Darcel Clark is in line to replace Johnson. Johnson denied backroom deals had been made.