Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NYCOA: Who's on the List for the Jones' Vacancy? (Part 2: Rowan Wilson)

Now that we've had an overview of the list [see Part 1], we'll take a look at each of the individuals.

The presumption is that Governor Andrew Cuomo will choose an African-American. He'll be filling the vacancy on New York's highest court resulting from the unexpected death of its only African-American, Judge Theodore Jones.
[May I add beloved, admired, independent, Vietnam Vet, warm and wonderful Judge Jones. I hope the Guv remembers that when he makes his choice to fill Judge Jones' seat. Yes, I really liked him. And apparently everyone else did as well.]

There are 3 African-Americans on the list of 7. It's the second list produced by the nominating commission since former Chief Judge Kaye became Chair.
[For discussion of the 1st list, which the commission produced for the vacancy created by Judge Carmen Ciparick's mandatory age retirement, see NY Court of Appeals: The List to Replace Ciparick, Jan. 11, 2013.]

We'll look at those 3. Let's do so in reverse alphabetical order. Candidly, because I'd like to discuss Rowan Wilson first. That's what we'll do in this post.

Rowan D. Wilson
Perhaps the most interesting name on the list. More important than that, it's hard to beat his vita.

Sure, no judicial experience. Not and never a government official. Nor a political party official. Nor advisor to a governor or senator. Nor a legal academic.

No, he's not the typical nominee for the Court of Appeals. Not a judge on a New York State appellate or trial court, as were 6 of the 7 members of the high court when Andrew Cuomo became Governor. No, not Rowan Wilson.
Oh, and he was born in California.

But, again, hard to beat.

Harvard undergraduate and law school.
Clerkship with the chief judge of a federal circuit court of appeals.
A partner at Cravath--one of the, or THE, most prestigious law firm in New York and the nation.
Litigator for clients such as Time Warner, Royal Dutch Shell, IBM, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. [They don't hire no slacks!]
Complex antitrust, copyright, trade secret, and securities fraud litigation. [Slacks can't handle those!]
And, he also [Perhaps for penance--just kidding!] has handled civil rights litigation, worked in support of affirmative action, and serves as the chair of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.

And, he's only 52.

Soooo, at the end of 2015, when Chief Judge Lippman must retire [because of New York's moronic mandatory age-70 retirement], Rowan Wilson will only be 55 or 56. If selected by Governor Cuomo to fill the current vacancy, he will have served 2 1/2 years on the Court of Appeals by that time, and he'll have a full 14 years till his 70th birthday.

He might just be the ideal choice--and politically ideal choice--to succeed Lippman as Chief.

Governor Cuomo's father made history with several firsts. When he was Governor, Mario Cuomo appointed the first woman, the first African-American, and the first Hispanic members to New York's highest court. He also appointed the first female Chief Judge.

With Rowan Wilson, Governor Andrew Cuomo could make his own historic appointment. The first African-American Chief Judge.

And come on, at least based on Wilson's extraordinary credentials and career to date, who could question his qualifications?

Yes, he's a most interesting name on the list. Not surprisingly, Court of Appeals watchers are abuzz about him.

In the next post, we'll look at the other African-American names on the list.