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RBBA rates judicial candidates

The Rochester Black Bar Association has released the rating results of evaluation of three candidates seeking judicial office for Rochester City Court and one candidate seeking the Monroe County Surrogate’s Court judgeship.

Monroe County Surrogate’s Court

• The Hon. John M. Owens — Highly qualified; low sensitivity

Rochester City Court

• Leticia D. Astacio — Qualified; highly sensitive

• William T. Gargan — Highly qualified; moderately sensitive

• Michael C. Lopez — Highly qualified; highly sensitive

Gargan is domestic violence bureau chief for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. Lopez is special assistant public defender for the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.

Astacio is a former prosecutor in private practice who specializes in criminal defense and family law.

Candidates who participate in the evaluation process are rated “highly qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified.” Candidates also receive a sensitivity rating of highly sensitive, moderately sensitive or low sensitivity based on the candidate’s sensitivity to issues involving minorities and/or other historically disadvantaged groups.

The organization’s Judicial Review Committee is composed of attorneys and prominent non-attorney members of the African-American community. The review is a nonpartisan program designed to evaluate each judicial candidate on an individual basis.

The evaluation process includes reviewing a detailed questionnaire completed by the candidate, reviewing writing samples, conducting reference checks and holding an in-depth interview with each candidate.

Evaluation criteria include experience, integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament and service to the law and contribution to the effective administration of justice and/or the community. Evaluation criteria for a candidate currently sitting as a judge also include preparation, attentiveness and control over judicial proceedings, judicial management skills, courtesy to litigants, counsel and court personnel, public disciplinary sanctions and quality of judicial opinions.