Monday, January 01, 2007

 

Rumors Swirl Seddio to Turn In Gavel

Rumor mongers claim that Surrogate Court Judge Frank Seddio is planning on resigning. It may be hard to believe, but working in the black robes may not be as much fun as one would think.

So appears to be the mantra of one-time assemblymember and current Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge Frank Seddio, who has allegedly voiced his displeasure with his new post to a number of political colleagues, a move that has opened up a Pandora’s Box of rumors that he is thinking of resigning.

According to a recent editorial in the Daily News as well as an article in the New York Law Journal, Seddio is planning on leaving for a host of reasons ranging from sheer boredom at the job to allegations that he is stepping down to ward off an investigation by the Commission of Judicial Misconduct.

There are also widespread whispers that a number of judges are preparing to fill the void once Seddio officially announces his resignation.

When contacted, Seddio would not comment on the rumors.

But those in Brooklyn’s political circle believe that Seddio is protesting too much and that he isn’t planning to step down.

“He’s not going anywhere,” said one close colleague who wished not to be named. “Frank’s one of those guys who wears his heart on his sleeve and he says what he feels. He’s said that the job is boring and that he’s living a monkish existence, which is bad for a guy who likes to schmooze and be with his friends all the time. But that doesn’t mean he’s resigning.”

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“He might not be meant to be a judge, but everyone I talk to from the bar association tells me he’s doing a good job,” the insider said.

After being an assemblyman for seven years, Seddio came to the Surrogate court post mired in controversy, with challengers claiming that the judgeship he filled was created in the fall – late in the political season — preventing any other viable candidates from running for the position.

Albany’s “date game” ensured that the first judge for the new spot would be selected by the reigning political party which, in Brooklyn’s case, is the Kings County Democratic Party.

The party’s executive committee selected Seddio in September 2005 after the man who was expected to warm the bench, State Assemblyman Joe Lentol, opted out.

Seddio was elected to the bench without any opposition. In January, he began sharing the Kings County Surrogate Court with Judge Margarita Lopez Torres, who won her spot following a three-way primary.

Interviewed last year, Seddio looked at his new post with optimism, claiming that he hoped to change the scandal-scarred Surrogate Court, the administrative body that holds sway over estate probates as well as adoptions.

Historically, Surrogate Court judgeships were considered the cash cow of patronage positions because of the judge’s power to dole out lucrative estate cases to attorneys.

“My main goal in 2006 will be in working on improving the image of the court, and I hope to do that by being a fair and honest judge in a court that requires compassion and a need to take care of the little guys,” he said.

Currently, it is unclear if the Commission of Judicial Misconduct was looking into allegations that Seddio gave money from his Assembly campaign fund to State Senator Carl Kruger and Assemblymember Alan Maisel last year.

Critics allege that he gave the money out after he announced he was running for the Surrogate Court, which is illegal.

Experts, however, believe that even if he is found guilty of misconduct – which is a long shot — he would only get a public admonishment and nothing more, not enough of a reason to step down from his post.

By Thomas Tracy 12/22/2006
Couier Life Paper

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