City council members unanimously confirmed municipal court judge J. Kevin McDuffie to a three-year permanent judgeship during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting.
McDuffie, who was appointed by former mayor Jose Torres, served as an acting chief judge at the city’s court since 2011, according to his resume.
Earlier in the month, Jeffery Jones, the city’s current mayor, appointed McDuffie to a three year term which council members initially questioned as politically motivated.
“Why is it now we are confirming as opposed to last year or the year before?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, last week.
The week prior Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, suggested the city wait until the May election pass before the judge is appointed to a permanent position. William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, said mixing the political cycle with the appointment of judges sets a bad precedent – showcasing a clear connection between the executive and the judicial branch.
McDuffie, who has considerable influence in the city’s African-American community, came before the council during a hearing last week to alleviate council members’ concerns. The judge’s credentials were reviewed and members of the council indicated they would approve the mayor’s appointment.
Tuesday evening, the judge was present at the council chamber while the council confirmed his appointment to a permanent three-year term. Tavarez and Morris voted in favor of confirming the appointment.