Increase Scrutiny of Judges Demanded by New York Criminal Justice Group

The Center for Community Alternatives has established a campaign to encourage elected officials to thoroughly examine judicial nominations and appointments around the state. This comes after the organization assisted in the unsuccessful confirmation of Governor Kathy Hochul’s choice for New York Supreme Court Chief Justice last year. In a letter sent to Hochul earlier this month, the organization said that neither the New York State Senate, which approves the nominations, nor the state governors had adequately investigated the backgrounds and qualifications of prospective judges for various state courts.

They seek to end the rubber-stamping of judges up for reappointment and conduct thorough dissemination of the jurist’s record.

According to a new campaign called The Court New York Deserves, those in power over judicial nominations have grown to assume that judges will remain on the court until they reach the necessary retirement age. The campaign also claims that reappointments have been regular. Judges nominated for reappointment must have shown remarkable honesty, good judgment, and dedication to New York’s principles; the organization encouraged Governor Hochul to reverse her previous policies.

The campaign is gaining momentum as New York judges face mounting pressure, particularly in the context of bail reform discussions. A year after the State Senate’s unprecedented rejection of a governor’s nomination for chief judge, Justice Hector D. LaSalle, the Center for Community Alternatives sponsored a grassroots campaign against Hochul’s choice. As public awareness grows about the crucial role state courts play in safeguarding individual liberties, several states have implemented reforms to enhance the evaluation of their judges. This underscores the power of public advocacy in shaping judicial processes.

The Senate’s decision was significantly influenced by the campaign against Justice LaSalle, who was perceived by progressive Democrats as overly conservative and hostile to unions and abortion rights. The Senate is resolute in asserting its authority over these nominations, viewing its role as that of a coequal branch of government.

The New York State Bar Association has established a task committee to thoroughly examine the process of appointing judges. Some Albany residents view the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for judicial review with skepticism. Thanks to the victory in the chief judge dispute, the Center for Community Alternatives is now more confident than ever that it can pursue even loftier objectives.