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2008 Questionnaire response from:
John J. Reddy, Jr., candidate for Surrogate Court (Countywide, Manhattan)


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Candidate Name: John J. Reddy, Jr.

Candidate for: Manhattan Surrogate

 

Campaign Name: John J. Reddy, Jr. for Manhattan Surrogate

Campaign Address: 342 Broadway, Suite 419, New York, NY 10013

If you have a campaign office, is it wheelchair accessible? Yes

Campaign Manager: Jake Dilemani

Phone: 212 - 925 - 9228

Fax: 212 - 925 - 8777

E-mail: ReddyforSurrogate @ gmail.com

Previous appointed offices held: Counsel to the Public Administrator of New York County

 

Key endorsements: Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin, former Justice, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department

Political leaders:

  • Hon. Carl McCall, former New York State Comptroller
  • Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner
  • numerous Democratic leaders including State Committee members, District Leaders, and Club Presidents

Political Clubs:

  • Lexington Democratic Club
  • Broadway Democrats
  • Ansonia Independent Democrats
  • East Side Democratic Club
  • Lenox Hill Democratic Club

 

 

  1. Please describe any experience with disability you have had in your life or career.

    My life experiences as a whole have allowed me to embrace and to fight for people of all backgrounds, abilities, and life circumstances. I was lucky enough to have parents who instilled in me at a young age the importance of devoting one's life to service and the great benefits accrued to everyone in our society by working with broadly diverse groups of people.

    On a professional level I have represented innumerable clients with varying disabilities in the preparation of wills and trusts, and in the establishment of health care proxies and powers of attorney, as well as in the administration of the estates of their family members.

     

  2. How will you incorporate people with disabilities into your campaign?

    As we are currently building our campaign team, we are actively recruiting persons who represent all facets of our community, including individuals with disabilities. My grassroots campaign is all-inclusive, with support coming from every corner of our borough. Moreover, one of my closest campaign advisors, who is also a friend of over 20 years, is physically disabled.

     

  3. If you are in private practice, is your office accessible to people with disabilities? If not, what have you done to ensure access?

    Yes, my office is accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. The elevator which is accessible to persons with disabilities is accessorized with braille keypads and audio tones for persons with hearing impairments.

     

  4. Is the courthouse in which you work accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities? If not, what have you done to ensure access?

    A rear entrance to the Surrogate's Courthouse has been made accessible to disabled persons. Yet, this measure does not go far enough to ensure an appropriate level of accessibility, and subsequently, the Surrogate's Courthouse must be made more accessible to any disabled person. First, the Surrogate's Court bathrooms are not available on every floor of the Court, providing an inconvenience to persons with limited mobility. Second, the bathrooms in the Courthouse are equipped with unduly heavy entry doors and interior "saloon style" swinging doors which clearly hinder accessibility to persons with disabilities. Third, most of the departments in the Surrogate's Court were recently redecorated with extremely thick area rugs. This might not seem like a matter worth mentioning, but I constantly see individuals with and without disabilities tripping over these rugs. The rugs are also a hinderance to persons in wheelchairs. To date, these issues have been brought to the Court's attention, but no action has been taken. Fourth, while courtrooms have an amplification system for the Surrogate Judge, there is no system in place to amplify the voices of attorneys, witnesses and pro se litigants, thereby hindering persons with auditory and oratory disabilities from fully participating in the judicial process.

    If elected Surrogate of Manhattan I will immediately initiate a Court infrastructure directive to make the Courthouse more accessible and to address the other issues I have raised.

     

  5. Has a person with a disability appeared before your court as a juror or litigant? If so, please indicate what, if any, challenges arose? And how were they handled?

    As I am not a former nor a sitting judge, no one has appeared before me in court. As stated in my response to question one, I have represented innumerable clients with varying disabilities. I have drafted wills for blind persons. In doing so, I have read the will aloud and have also described the entire execution ceremony aloud. Additionally I have modified the Court form witness affidavit to memorialize the oral ceremony. I have prepared wills in large fonts to assist clients with partial visual impairments. I have participated in conferences with attorneys and clients who are deaf or hearing impaired using the TTY Telephone Relay Service. I have represented clients who have physical disabilities that prevent them from leaving their homes. I have always been willing to attend to any client who is home-bound, unlike many attorneys, and have taken pro bono and discounted rate cases with this understanding at the outset.

    My entire career is based upon the maxim that action speaks louder than words. I am proud of my involvement with Operation Helping Hand, a charity assisting disabled and elderly residents of New Orleans rebuild their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

     

  6. Do you believe that person who is deaf /hard of hearing or person who blind can serve as a juror? Why or why not?

    I absolutely believe that persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or blind can serve as jurors. All citizens of this country have the right and duty to participate in one of our most fundamental civic processes. I believe it is the obligation of the judges and the Office of Court Administration to make sure that persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or blind, do indeed serve as jurors, and that the process is accessible to them. The jury pool is supposed to reflect our entire society and I firmly believe that persons with disabilities are an integral part of our society. In my opinion, their participation is not only constitutionally required, but it is indispensable.

     

  7. Are you willing to hire either on a job share or full time basis, a qualified law clerk/secretary with a disability?

    There is no question in my mind that I would hire a qualified employee with a disability on a full time basis as my law secretary, court attorney, or for any other position in the Court. One of my full time employees, who is vital to the operation of my office, is hearing impaired. She manages my office's affairs and is one of my most trusted employees.

    One of my employees was a summer clerk to a Supreme Court Justice whose law secretary was blind and is now a Supreme Court Justice himself. I am therefore fully aware that disabled individuals are equally capable of serving on my court staff. I am also aware that persons with disabilities are woefully underrepresented in the Court's staff. This raises questions about accessibility to job opportunities within the Court. If elected, I intend to make sure that persons with disabilities are interviewed and provided with every opportunity to attain positions within the Court.

     

  8. How will you work within the court structure to assure the accessibility of all facilities of the courts? For example, will you participate in the Committee for People with Disabilities, relevant training opportunities?

    As Surrogate of Manhattan I will push the New York State Office of Court Administration to establish accessibility guidelines for all court facilities in the State of New York. A court of justice is one of the most sacred institutions in our society. Consequently, the courts must never trample upon the equal rights of any individual. Physical access to a courthouse is a fundamental right of every member of our community.

    A larger issue is access to the judicial system by persons whose disabilities prevent them from coming to the court regardless of how accessible the court may be. As a member of the Surrogate's Court Advisory Committee to the Chief Administrative Judge, I have advocated for court rules that would enable homebound individuals to participate in the Surrogate's Court through e-filing. The technology now exists for homebound litigants to actually participate in court hearings and conferences through video conferencing. As this technology becomes more cost effective, I plan to establish this mechanism in the New York County Surrogate's Court.

    I most certainly will participate in the Committee for People with Disabilities or any other such advocacy group which promotes equal access and opportunity for persons with disabilities.

     

Date: June 9, 2008

 

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For other candidates running for Judicial positions, go to the Questionnaires section

 

 

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