This Friday is the deadline for Governor Hochul to name a new chief judge of the State of New York and Court of Appeals. She will select this judge from a list of seven names recommended to her by the Commission for Judicial Nomination. This decision that she is about to make will have reverberating effects on the citizenry of NY for generations to come, and that is why we implore the governor to understand that the wrong decision is not a legacy she wants to hold.  

The next chief judge must adhere to the law, have respect for the legislature that represents the people, and recognize that the respect for the law is a line between our values and anarchy.  

What the last chief judge did was antithetical to those principles and destroyed a sense of justice. Retired Chief Judge DiFiore left the court on August 31, 2022. Even after her departure there was influence exercised that blocked fellow colleagues from becoming candidates to replace her. Coincidentally these colleagues were all judges of color who had opposed her decisions. During her tenure, she led a four-member block of Court of Appeals judges that voted together 96 of 98 times. Those decisions have proven to be anti-tenant, anti-union, anti-criminal defendants, pro-big business and pro-landlord.
The final decision of this block gave control of the drawing of Congressional and State Senate district lines to a Republican surrogate, acting Supreme Court judge in Steuben County, New York. That decision invalidated the maps drawn by the Democratically controlled state legislature. However, it was the other part of the decision that had the greatest effect. It decided that the state legislature could not have an opportunity to submit new maps with acceptable lines. Instead, the judge in Steuben County, a 10-hour bus ride from New York City, was now given full control by the DiFiore Court. Under the new lines, Republicans flipped six Democratic congressional seats and now control the U.S House of Representatives.

Hakeem Jeffries could have been speaker of the House today. 

The courts must have a new chief judge that will NOT continue down the path of the ex chief judge. Several candidates have decisions of record which no doubt would continue the conservative path forged by DiFiore. Governor Hochul must reject those candidates. 

There are only two real choices that Governor Hochul has: Abbey Gluck or Edwina Richardson Mendelson if she honestly wants to have a Cardozo court once again.

There are already Cardozos on the court. But this selection must be able to restore the confidence in the courts. The selection must be able to facilitate greater access to the courts. The selection must be able to restore morale within the courts. The selection must have familiar knowledge of the court system all over the state. While there is one law, the courts across the state face different realities. The right selection must have the ability to thread the similarities while respecting the differences. The selection must have the proven ability to address the issues that most disproportionately affect the majority of people in this state in accessing court services.

If we had our druthers the choice would be Edwina Richardson Mendelson for she is the kind of judge we need right now to bring the court back to where it needs to be to bring this state forward. We implore the governor to do what is best for all New Yorkers and appoint the right judge at the right time.

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