Greenburgh judge Doris Friedman stays on the ballot after challenge

A state Supreme Court judge overturned a decision by the Westchester County Board of Elections and ruled Tuesday that veteran Greenburgh Town Justice Doris Friedman (left) will be allowed to run as a Democrat in the Sept. 13 primary.

Four Greenburgh Democrats challenged the validity of Friedman’s petition, saying defective witness statements, late signatures and other technical snafus invalidated more than 700 signatures and made her ineligible to run on the party line.

Friedman and the other two justices, Sandra Forster and Arlene Gordon-Oliver, were not endorsed by the Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee. The committee chose to endorse three newcomers, saying that it was time for a change after years of critical audits and a recent paperwork debacle in which roughly 80,000 unresolved traffic tickets were found hidden inside courthouse cabinets.

Last month, Friedman turned in a petition with 1,569 signatures; she only needed 1,000 valid signatures to get on the Democratic ballot. Four Greenburgh residents — Herb Rosenberg, Diane Torstrup, Marjorie Gaffney and John Blakley Sr. — each filed identical objections listing general and specific problems with her forms. Westchester County Board of Elections found that only 848 of the signatures were valid and on Aug. 5 disqualified her from appearing on the Democratic ballot.

Friedman and her lawyer, Alan Goldston, filed court papers to reinstate her, and Judge Sam Walker held a two-day hearing where he heard testimony about the petitions. The objectors argued that signatures on 15 of 95 pages were invalid because the people who collected the signatures didn’t follow proper procedures. Several people who collected signatures for Friedman testified and explained how the mistakes, such as incorrect dates and changes without proper initials, were made.

Judge Walker deemed many of the errors “inadvertent” and restored 231 signatures, giving Friedman a total of 1,079 — enough to appear on the ballot. Walker said petitions containing “innocent and  inconsequential” violations should remain valid, as long as the mistakes pose no risk for fraud or prejudice.

Meanwhile, Forster said today that she turned in 2,005 signatures. Gordon-Oliver said she turned in more than 3,700.

Greenburgh judge chosen as VP of state bar board

She may not have won over Greenburgh Democrats, but Greenburgh Town Justice Arlene Gordon-Oliver (left) has been elected vice-president for the Ninth Judicial District on the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association. Founded in 1876, the group is the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States, with 77,000 members.

Gordon-Oliver, 47, is the managing partner of Arlene Gordon-Oliver PC, which focuses on bankruptcy law. She had been a partner at Rattet, Pasternak & Gordon-Oliver. She is a member of the State Bar’s House of Delegates, Business Law Section and the Special Committee to Review the Code of Judicial Conduct. She is also member of the National Bar Association’s Board of Governors.

A past president of the Association of Black Lawyers of Westchester County, Gordon-Oliver graduated summa cum laude from Baruch College and earned her law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Gordon-Oliver, born in Jamaica, was appointed in 2007 to fill a judicial vacancy in Greenburgh Town Court, making it the only town court in Westchester to have three women on the bench. We’ll see if this new position helps to keep her judgeship, in light of the town court’s recent traffic ticket debacle.

Problems in Greenburgh Town Court

Another state audit has found fault with the Greenburgh Town Court over its inability to keep track of its bail money and other problems.

State auditors, who studied the court in 2009, blamed the two senior town justices, Doris Friedman and Sandra Forster, as well as the entire town board for their lack of oversight.

If you’d like to read the entire report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, click here.