Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New York Court of Appeals: A "Dream Team" of Retirees

It might have been evident from my past criticisms (OK, rantings) about that moronic mandatory age retirement for Court of Appeals judges. (See, e.g., previous posts on the New York Court Watcher: New York Court of Appeals: Memo to the Governor & the Commission, Nov. 17, 2008; New York Court of Appeals: The Best of Judith Kaye (Part 1), Sept. 26, 2008.)

But a dear friend simply put it together for me in a phone call today. [Suffice it to say that this person--no, I'm not even disclosing the gender--is a former fellow law clerk at the court and ever since a prominent attorney. Also, this person would make a great appointee to the court.]

What this friend suggested outright was a Court of Appeals with the recently age-forced retirees still serving. Wow! Now that would be one heck of a strong court. And let's include Chief Judge Kaye who's being forced out by age in a few weeks.

So just imagine a Court of Appeals with those judges whose only reason for no longer being on the court is that idiotic mandatory retirement:
Judith Kaye
Albert Rosenblatt
Howard Levine
Richard Simons
Stewart Hancock.

That is one heck of a line-up! What an exceptional court that would be with those five. And especially so because of the wisdom and experience they had gained on the court, and in life, by the time they turned 70--let alone the enormous talent, ability and character they had each demonstrated throughout their tenures on the court.

Now there may be some who look closely at that list and wonder why I, a liberal Democrat [not an entirely inaccurate characterization], would actually want four out of five upstate Republicans. And other than Kaye, that is what they all are. But that gets to the very point.

These were superb judges. Exceptionally good, decent, wise, smart, skillful. Not too right or too left. Temperate and collegial, but also independent and gutsy. All extremely well regarded both inside the courthouse on Eagle Street and on the outside by those who follow the court. All made a significant positive impact on the fundamental law of New York. And all would still be doing that, and our court would be pretty exceptional, if it weren't for that imbecilic (ah, went from moronic to idiotic to imbecilic!) mandatory age retirement.