Doris L. Sassower
"Where do you go when judges break the law?
You go public!"
Attorney Doris Lipson
Sassower was honored as a "Giraffe" for
her risk-taking civic activism and for founding the Center for Judicial
Accountability, Inc. (CJA), a national nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens'
organization that is working to reform the way federal, state, and local
judges are selected and disciplined. The organization has members in more
than 30 states.
Sassower has "stuck her neck out" for decades as a pioneer
in the women's movement and for family law reform. But her 35-year career
at the bar ended after she brought a lawsuit against the two major
political parties for their manipulation of the 1990 judicial elections in New
York State's Ninth Judicial District.
As pro bono counsel, she challenged a written judge-trading deal
between the political parties, in which the parties agreed to
cross-endorse seven judicial candidates over a three-year period, required
the resignations of sitting judges to create judicial vacancies, and pledged
to split judicial patronage. Her suit also cited the judicial nominating
conventions' violation of Election Law quorum, roll call, and other
Sassower paid a heavy price for her reform advocacy and
for championing the public interest by this politically sensitive Election
Law case. Within days of her announcement that she would take the case to
the highest state court, a New York court suspended her law license without
charges, without a hearing, without findings, without reasons, and without
any right of appeal. She has been fighting ever since to regain her right
to practice her profession. Her federal civil rights action against the
state court judges who suspended her is headed for the US Supreme
Ann Medlock, President of the Giraffe Project, said that her
organization was founded 15 years ago, "to overcome apathy and
feelings of powerlessness by showing what people with courage and caring
can do." In receiving the award, Sassower said, "The Giraffe
Award is a powerful symbol that fortifies me in my challenging of
ostrich-like 'leaders' who bury their heads in the sand while the rule of
law is being obliterated by those who are part of the political power
structure. Citizens care about having an honest judiciary, and through CJA
are working to make it happen. This award should make politicians realize
that reforming the way lawyers become and remain judges is a key
political issue for 1998."
Doris L. Sassower is Co-Founder and Director of the Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc. (http://www.judgewatch.org) and a 1997 recipient of the prestigious Certificate of Commendation from the Giraffe Project, a national, nonprofit organization that recognizes heroic individuals who "stick their necks out for the common good." Ms. Sassower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Giraffe Project (http://www.giraffe.org) is headquartered on Whidbey Island, WA and can be reached at email@example.com.