Let's now look at 2 others on the list.
We're considering the 3 African-Americans. We looked at Rowan Wilson in the last post. We'll now go to Sheila Abdus-Salaam and Dianne Renwick. Two Appellate Division Justices who are certainly credible candidates for the appointment.
Before then, she was a Justice on the state's highest trial court (in New York, entitled "Supreme Court") for 15 years.
Prior to that, she had served as a NYC Civil Court judge, an assistant in the state attorney general's office, and a staff attorney with Brooklyn Legal Services.
So, she has plenty of judicial experience--both at the trial and appellate level.
She also has plenty of experience as a public service attorney.
Justice Abdus-Salaam is a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School.
She is 60. If appointed, she could serve 10 years of the 14 year term for Court of Appeals Judges. She would be forced to retire at age 70--unless New York's moronic age-70 mandatory retirement is changed.
As with every other individual on the list, Abdus-Salaam is a Democrat.
She lives in Manhattan.
A quick review of her opinions at the Appellate Division is revealing, but not surprising.
Her record in close cases, specifically those where her court was divided with at least 1 member of the panel dissenting, indicates that she is at least moderately liberal. Both in criminal and civil matters.
For example, she has several times dissented to argue that a criminal defendant's rights were violated where the majority of her colleagues ruled otherwise.
Similarly, she has dissented in favor of the indigent, of low income plaintiffs, and of a class action seeking banking losses, and against involuntary medication.
In some of those divided cases in which Abdus-Salaam disagreed with the majority of her court, the Court of Appeals reviewed the Appellate Division decision and agreed with her.
Abdus-Salaam was also on the previous Court of Appeals list produced by the nominating commission.
By all accounts--at least those that I am hearing--she is a strong judge with a solid reputation.
My own reading of her opinions--certainly not all, but a bunch of them--leads me to conclude that those accounts are well deserved.
Before that, she was a Justice on the state's highest trial court (again, "Supreme Court") for 6 years.
Prior to that, she had served on NYC civil court and housing court, and for 11 years as a criminal defense attorney for The Legal Aid Society.
So, she too has plenty of judicial experience--both at the trial and appellate level.
She also has plenty of experience litigating as a criminal defense lawyer.
Justice Renwick is a graduate of Cornell University and Cardozo Law School.
She is 52. She would be able to serve a full 14 year term and still be younger than the--yes, moronic--mandatory retirement age of 70.
She is a Democrat. She happens to be married to the District Attorney of the Bronx, and she lives there.
As with Justice Abdus-Salaam, a quick review of her opinions at the Appellate Division is revealing, but not too surprising. Her record in those close cases where her court was divided--at least 1 Justice dissenting--leaves little doubt that she is a liberal. Both in criminal and civil matters.
She has authored dissenting opinions, disagreeing with the majority of her colleagues, to support claims of disability discrimination, worker injury, and ineffective criminal counsel.
She has authored majority opinions for her court--i.e., in divided cases--to support tenants in rent stabilized housing, workers claiming wrongful termination and injury on the job, and accuseds claiming false arrest and invalid re-indictment--the latter 2 cases by votes of 3-2 votes.
The Court of Appeals reviewed those latter 2 cases. It disagreed with her both times. Once, the high court reversed her summarily. But one of the reversals was by a Court of Appeals that was deeply divided (4-3) itself.
Renwick was not on the previous Court of Appeals list. (I don't know whether she even applied.)
By most accounts--at least those that I am hearing--she is a fine judge, with some strong supporters and others who don't regard her so highly.
My own reading of her opinions--again, not all, but a bunch of them--leads me to conclude that some of those conflicting assessments might well be ideologically based--both pro and con.
Some of her opinions, as well as the collective pattern that they form, evince a clear liberal--compassionate?--leaning. A leaning [And let's remember, ALL judges have them.] that ideological liberals would strongly favor and ideological conservatives strongly oppose.
For that reason, I suspect that she might well be subject to some tough questioning by the Republican led Senate Judiciary Committee if she is selected by Governor Cuomo.
In the next post we will take a quick look at the 4 remaining individuals on the Court of Appeals list.
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