Those clever, clever Democrats. Is this cool or what? Middlesex Dems are being accused of getting a judge to register as a Republican so she can be given a judgeship where they are to be apportioned between the two parties. Read on (from today's Ledger, here)--
Court choice gets third degree from GOPWho'd a thunk it?
Middlesex prosecutor is doubted on sincerity of her party affiliation
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
BY RICK HEPP
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday grilled a Superior Court nominee from Middlesex County to find out whether she was truly a Republican, as she first declared last summer, or a Democrat in conservative clothing.
The hearing was rocky from the start for Andrea Carter Latimer, an assistant Middlesex County prosecutor. Republicans spent more than half an hour interrogating her on why she switched to the GOP after being an independent voter for more than 10 years.
The committee ultimately approved her appointment, 6-2, with two Republicans opposed and a third abstaining. But the hearing took its toll on Carter Latimer, who left the room visibly shaken and leaning on her family for physical support.
During the hearing, Carter La timer told lawmakers she had conversations with three Democratic legislators and the Middlesex County assignment judge about her interest in becoming a judge. But she said she decided to register with the GOP because it was aligned with her political philosophy.
"Did any of them suggest to you that it would be a good idea to fill out a registration form registering yourself as a Republican?" asked Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen).
"No," she said. "What was im parted to me was that if I am affiliated one way or another, that I needed to make that known.
"Have you generally voted for Republican candidates?" Cardinale followed.
"Sir, I can't think back to everyone that I voted for over the years," Carter Latimer said. "I will say that every time I went into a voting booth, I pulled the curtain behind me and I voted in accordance with what I thought was Republican guidelines and ideology."
When pressed, Carter Latimer could not define those guidelines and ideals, nor could she provide any evidence beyond her voter registration last year that she was truly a Republican.
"I cannot give you any objective evidence, sir, other than to say that I am comfortable in my own skin with my actions and I am comfortable with my actions in this case," she said.
Sens. Bill Baroni (R-Mercer) and Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) voted against the nomination, while Cardinale abstained.
Democratic senators apologized to Carter Latimer near the end of questioning, saying she was caught in the middle of a dispute between lawmakers on how the long-ruling Democrats choose Republican judges in Middlesex County. The governor is supposed to choose equally between the two parties when filling open posts, although there are currently 220 Democrats serving as state Superior Court judges and only 192 Republican judges.
"I understand the concerns of colleagues on the other side," said Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen). "I'm sorry that you had to sit through a discussion that we should be hav ing."
Carter Latimer is currently in charge of the sex crimes unit in the prosecutor's office. She is considered an accomplished trial attor ney, most notably winning convic tions against serial rapists Bruce Sterling and Ricardo Cepates in separate cases. Her nomination now goes to the full Senate for consideration."
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