Judge born in Dominican Republic in NYC Surrogate Court

With 59% of the votes

Manhattan Civil Court judge Rita Mella on Thursday won a bench in that borough’s Surrogate Court with 59% of the votes, a major jump in the fledgling career of the Dominican-born attorney.

With no Republican candidate on November’s ballot, Mella, 50, is all but guaranteed one of the court’s two surrogate positions in January, replacing the retiring Kristin Booth Glen.

She beat Barbara Jaffe in the Democratic primary to replace judge Kristen Booth Glen, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, as one of the borough’s two surrogates. There was no Republican candidate.

Mella received 26,223 votes to Jaffe’s 17,671, according to preliminary results from the New York City Board of Elections.

The Surrogate Court bench was one of the few positions that had generated much competition in the primary for which the candidates had raised two weeks ago a combined $320,000, much of it from their own pocketbooks and law firm contributions.

Mella, who was assigned to Criminal Court six years ago, said she would institute a triage system at the court that would separate complex cases from simple affairs in an effort to reduce lengthy delays.

She also promised to demystify the court for average New Yorkers, suggesting an improved, user-friendly website, a satellite office in Harlem and tours of the building.

Dominican Republic Live, from DL, 14.09.12, 4.50pm

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