Judges are supposed to be impartial and should never get involved in politics. Right? Well, not exactly; and it is the “not exactly” part that makes Francis J Donovan’s book, The Judge Talks Politics so interesting to read.  

Francis J. Donovan grew up as a poor Irish American who entered the arena of Long Island politics shortly after earning his law degree from St John’s University. During his decades of public service, he rose through the ranks from deputy county attorney in Nassau County to a district court judge from 1959 to 1973. It was a successful and illustrious career that almost didn’t get off the ground; primarily because by his own admission that, “he was never told how the political game was played.”   

Donovan’s problems began when he stood for re-election to a third term as a district court judge. Given that he had received the endorsement of the Republican, Democratic, and Conservative parties his re-election seemed virtually assured. But there was one small problem. Joseph Margiotti, the all powerful Republican Party boss of Long Island, demanded that he reject the Conservative endorsement. 

Donovan refused to do this on the grounds that doing so violated the Canon of Judicial Ethics. He also felt that the Liberal and Conservative parties of Nassau County should not be forced to give up their power to possibly swing the vote to nominate a rival party in an upcoming election.  Margiotti’s response to Donovan’s act of disobedience was quick and brutal. First he had him stricken from the Republican ticket and then he set out to remove him from office with the declaration, “it is Donovan, his family, and friends against the organization.”  

What ensued next, was a tough and bloody battle that Donovan won against insurmountable odds, primarily because of his dogged determination, an in depth knowledge of how the judicial system works, and a well organized network of loyal friends and colleagues. In many ways the famous Margiotti vs. Donovan case was a watershed for politics in Nassau County. It was also a tipping point in the career of Francis J Donovan. 

From that point forward he understood how the political game was played and he played the game masterfully, winning one battle after another as he worked within the system to achieve his personal goals.  Characterizing The Judge Talks Politics as a tell-all book about Long Island politics does not do it justice. 

Between the covers of this compact, well written book a reader can find a snapshot of Nassau County history during a most important time; details on how politics really work; tips on how to analyze issues; advice on how to seek political office; and much more. Whether you are a casual reader, or a political junkie seeking snippets of information politicians don’t normally want to discuss, The Judge Talks Politics is a worthwhile read. I strongly recommend it.  

Publisher:  iUniverse

Publisher Address:  1663 Liberty Dr, Bloomington, IN 47403

Publisher Phone Number and URL:  1-800-288-4677, www.iuniverse.com

ISBN, Price, Publication Date:  978-0-595-42941-7, $12.95, 2008

Reviewed by: Ron Standerfer for Reader Views (February/2009)  Ron Standerfer is a freelance writer and photographer who is a frequent contributor to Blogger News Network as well as numerous other online news sites. His latest novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of his book can be found at http://www.theeagleslastflight.com

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