After initially questioning the timing of the mayor’s appointment of J. Kevin McDuffie, municipal court judge, to a permanent three year judgeship, the city council on Tuesday evening indicate it would confirm the appointment.
“Why is it now we are confirming as opposed to last year or the year before?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
Last week, Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, questioned the timing of the mayor’s decision to appoint McDuffie to a three-year term a month before the mayoral election scheduled for May.
McDuffie posited a theory explaining the mayor’s timing; he said the mayor did not have statistics to measure his performance, therefore he waited three years prior to making the permanent appointment.
“I performed as he thought I would,” said McDuffie. The judge passed out a sheet showing the court’s backlog performance dated March 2014.
The municipal court ranks above average in avoiding backlogs of parking violations, disorderly persons conduct, and “other” category.
The court falls slightly behind the state average in drunk driving and traffic violations, according to the data sheet passed out by McDuffie.
“It’s got nothing to do with the election, it’s got everything to do with he’s been there, he’s done the job,” said Jeffery Jones, the city’s mayor. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes into running a city, and unfortunately some of the appointment and others things didn’t happen.”
Tavarez said, “If this appointment had come last year or a year-and-a-half ago there wouldn’t have been an issue.”
Council members questioned the mayor’s timing of the appointment, while never doubting McDuffie’s credentials. Members of the council stated they would confirm the mayor’s appointment of McDuffie as the court’s presiding judge.
“It was something that was supposed to happen sometime ago,” said Jones.