Local Republican opposition cost him a federal judgeship and his position as Monroe County district attorney, outgoing District Attorney Michael Green charged Monday.
Monroe County GOP chairman Assemblyman William Reilich, R-Greece, disputed the contention. When Democrats control the White House and Senate, he asked, how could Republican opposition have upended Green’s judicial appointment?
Nominated for a seat on the Western District of New York bench, Green saw the appointment blocked for months by obdurate GOP opposition. He learned this week that the nomination is dead in the current session and that he is among six unconfirmed district court nominees whose names would not be carried over to the Senate’s 2012 session.
With the end of his term as district attorney on Dec. 31, Green will be out of a job.
A 25-year veteran of the district attorney’s office, Green was barred by Justice Department policy from running for another term while the judicial nomination was pending. He expressed bafflement at the Justice Department policy, which he said had not been in effect in previous Republican administrations.
“There’s no way I should have had to make that choice,” Green said.
GOP senators including Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, used arcane Senate rules to keep his nomination from coming to a floor vote. Still, Green pinned blame for the holdup squarely on unnamed local GOP actors.
While he does not know specifically who among the local GOP had it in for him, Green said, it is clear to him that “my (local) enemies punished me for doing my job well.”
Beginning with his defection from the Republican Party eight years ago to run for district attorney, Green said, a long list of slights had angered area GOP partisans. Among them: Green’s prosecution of former Monroe County Republican chairman John Stanwix for alleged misdeeds as chairman of the Monroe County Water Authority; his prosecution of alleged malefactors in the Robutrad scandal; and his public endorsement of and active support for the incoming Democratic county district attorney, Sandra Doorley, who was Green’s first assistant.
While Green denied he had anything to do with it, he also blamed a perception that he was behind Doorley’s controversial decision to terminate several Republican assistant district attorneys for directing local Republicans’ ire to him.
Reilich firmly denied that any in the local GOP played a part in killing the nomination. Neither he nor any other local Republican to his knowledge contacted anyone in Washington, he said.
“I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know the process and I wouldn’t know who to call. (Green) might want to ask why President Obama did not submit his name again. He can’t say that any Republican had anything to do with that,” Reilich said.
Green assumes too much in taking statements by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.—who said that opposition to Green’s confirmation came out of Monroe County—as referring exclusively to Republican opposition, Reilich said. Opposition could have come from either side of the political aisle.
In a Dec. 18 statement, Schumer singled out no Republicans here or in Washington but blamed the failure of Green’s nomination on “partisan politics.”
“I’m not bashing all Republicans,” Green said. “There are some good, honest Republicans. My wife (Pittsford Town Board member Karen Green) is a Republican elected official in Pittsford.”
Others in the GOP have contributed to “dysfunctional government,” however, he added.
Green said he is not sure what his next move might be. He would not rule out positions such as working as a private defense attorney, running for a state Supreme Court seat, working for a non-profit or in the private sector. He would not consider staying on as an assistant district attorney under Doorley, however.
Though Green said, “if I had it to do over again, I would change nothing,” he would not accept a federal judicial nomination if one were offered again.
“I’ve been through enough,” he said. “My family’s been through enough.”
Green was to have taken a federal court seat vacated by District Judge David Larimer when at age 65 Larimer went on so-called senior status. Senior status judges retire but continue to hear cases and keep chambers at a federal court house. Larimer’s decision to go on senior status in 2009 leaves the Rochester federal court with only one active-status judge, District Judge Charles Siragusa. District Judge Michael Telesca, 82, has been on senior status in the Rochester federal court since 1996.
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