Would be first openly gay judge in Queens if elected
By Matthew Fischetti
Michael Goldman, a 53 year old attorney, has launched a campaign for Civil Court Judge in Queen County’s first Municipal Court District. If elected, he would be the first openly gay judge to represent Queens.
The civil court justice manages cases where financial relief is up to $50,000, including issues such as housing and small claims. The 1st municipal court district covers Astoria and stretches over to Long Island City and slices of Sunnyside and Woodside.
Goldman has received a series of endorsements from Queens politicians including Councilwoman Julie Won; Assemblyman Juan Ardilla; State Senator Jessica Ramos; State Senator Michael Gianaris; and Borough President Donovan Richards. He also received endorsements from Queens-based district leaders like Nick Berkowitz; Émilia Decaudin; Matthew DiStefano; Breeana Mulligan; Antonio Alfonso; and Melissa Sklarz.
”For far too long, queer New Yorkers living in Queens have had no one on the bench who understands our lives, families, and experiences,” Decaudin said in a statement. “I am excited to support Michael’s campaign—he is someone who will not just finally bring this perspective to the New York City Civil Court, but the qualifications, character, and work ethic to be a judge that our community can be proud of.
Goldman has over 25 years of legal experience, having worked in private criminal defense and civil practice prior to serving as a Senior Court Attorney to Justice Jessica Earle-Gargan. Goldman previously ran to represent the Civil Court Judge for all of Queens County in 2021 and lost by just under 2500 votes in a close election.
“I am proud to endorse Michael Goldman for Civil Court, to become the first openly gay judge to be elected in our borough,” Ardilla said in a statement. “Michael knows what it’s like to be the victim of an unjust system that goes against who New Yorkers are, who we love and how we wish to live our lives.”
Goldman was inspired to practice law by family friend Joel Blumenfeld who was a Legal Aid lawyer in the Bronx and a Criminal Judge in Queens, and said that Blumenfeld’s philosophy helped shape his views on how to be a judge.
“If you’re going to be judging someone, you should judge a complete person, not just a case number on a page,” Goldman said in a phone interview with the Queens Ledger. “So it became my desire to follow his example and eventually become a judge.”
Goldman said that while he didn’t consider his sexuality the “main part of his campaign” that he was proud of being able to openly run as a gay man. Goldman recounted a story of when he was a young lawyer in Miami, one of the firm’s partners asked him if he was gay. Goldman said that he was fired just two weeks later.
“I had no recourse at the time. And to have come from that experience, in just over 25 years – to not be able to be a judge and now to do so without having to hide that part of me, is to me, an amazing advancement that our society has made,” he said.
Goldman also highlighted his background in various aspects in law as reasons why he feels he is qualified for the position.
“I’ve been working for judges mostly in the Queens courts for over 20 years now, both civil and criminal,” he said. “I’ve spent [time] in foreclosure parts, in discovery parts, in divorce parts. And this has given me a very broad view of the issues a judge faces each day.”
Goldman continued to say that his experience helped shape his views on how to improve the efficiency of the courthouse and that having practiced on both sides of the bench has given him “a wide understanding of the best way to function and to run a courtroom.”
Goldman currently does not have any competitors in the race at time of publication, but candidates are able to petition for the seat until April 6.
The primary for the election will be held on June 27.