For generations, the appearance of judicial candidates on the ballot was a pro forma matter involving individuals selected by party leaders to fill a seat. In recent elections, every elected office has seen more candidates running, representing all walks of life. In this month’s primary for citywide and local offices, there is also the race for civil court judge.
“Unlike the Council or the Assembly, a candidate for judge is not allowed to talk about positions on issues that may appear in court,” said candidate for civil court judge Michael Goldman. “We talk about our approach to the job and our qualifications. I like it, and that’s how it should be.”
A native of Bayside, Goldman has been practicing law for 25 years in a variety of tasks and values, in civil and criminal court, as an attorney and as a clerk. “It gives me the ability to understand different perspectives, knowing people’s situations.”
At a time when there have been calls to diversify the courts by having more judges from underrepresented minority groups, many stories about Goldman’s candidacy have focused on his orientation, as he would be the first in his category to sit on the Queens Civil Court, if elected. Goldman spoke of the progress in recognition over the course of his career.
After graduating law school at Boston University, Goldman was fired from his first job at a law firm after his personal life became known to his employer. “At the time I was completely devastated by it and I wondered if I was ever going to have a successful career in law. If I was going to have to hide that part of myself,” he said. “I wouldn’t have believed back then that I’d be running for judge today.”
Goldman said that along with this public aspect of his identity, he is also proud of his membership at Hollis Hills Jewish Center, a Conservative shul where he davened with his parents. They were close friends with criminal court judge Joel Blumenfeld, who also attended this shul. “We discussed the cases that we watched. I was impressed with how thoughtful and knowledgeable he was and his humanity,” he said. Blumenfeld became a mentor to Goldman and inspired him to pursue a legal career.
In his teenage years, Goldman was a youth service leader at the shul, and during the pandemic he returned to Hollis Hills to coordinate efforts by the shul’s younger members in doing Pesach food shopping for older members who stayed home for their own safety.
“I saw the value of a strong community at age 14, when my family’s home burned in a fire. The community came through for us, there was never a night where we had no place to sleep. It left an impression on me.”
Goldman’s candidacy has the support of Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, Councilman Jim Gennaro, and District Leaders Facia Class and Shimi Pelman, among other community leaders representing the Queens Jewish community. Early voting in this Democratic primary starts on June 12, with the Primary election day on June 22.
By Sergey Kadinsky