Monday, December 1, 2014

NYCOA: The List for the Smith Vacancy (Part 1)

Well, at least the Commission abides by the law's deadline!
[See Senate To Miss Deadline to Approve Court Pick  and Part 4 [The Guv's Delay]--NY Court of Appeals: The List for the Graffeo Seat]

Earlier today, the Commission on Judicial Nomination released its list of 7. That is, candidates for the Court of Appeals--possible gubernatorial nominees--to fill the vacancy that will arise at the very end of this year, as a result of New York's (moronic) mandatory 70-age retirement for the high court's Judges. Once again, it is a very strong list.
[Available at]

Yes, what must be said must be said. Although some lists under New York's so-called "merit appointment system" (adopted in the late 1970's to replace the election system) have been pretty mediocre, the lists have consistently been very strong since former Chief Judge Judith Kaye became Chair of the Commission.

Those lists should be very strong. Not only because we are talking about filling positions on one of the nation's great courts, but also because we are talking about replacing some very strong Judges.

So, for example, it was about replacing Judge Victoria Graffeo the last time.
[See Part 3 [The Seasoned, Admired Judge Graffeo ] NY Court of Appeals: Cuomo Chooses Stein Over Graffeo]

This time, it's about replacing Judge Robert Smith--a brilliant Gov. Pataki appointee who has helped invigorate the decision-making at the Court by, among other things, his rigorous questioning at oral arguments and his enthusiasm for penning insightful (but never disagreeable) dissenting opinions. It's good that there's such a strong list of candidates to fill his vacancy.

We'll discuss more about the list in future posts.
[I mean, come on, the Senate has not even held hearings yet on Governor Andrew Cuomo's nominee to replace Judge Graffeo, despite the legal deadline 2 weeks ago.]

But for now, a few observations on the list as a whole:
1st, as already noted, the list was delivered to the Governor on time--December 1, as required by statute (Judiciary law sec. 68).
2nd, again as already noted, a very strong list.
3rd, not only very strong, but also quite diverse--even 2 Republicans.
4th, here's a demographic breakdown (as best as I can determine at this point):

  • 1 Asian
  • 1 Latino
  • 1 African-American
  • 3 Women, 4 Men
  • 2 Republicans (about time!), 5 Dems
  • 2 Judges, 5 Private Practitioners
  • 5 litigators, 1 former Prosecutor
  • 2 former Appellate Law Clerks (1 federal, 1 on the NYCOA itself)
  • 3 Repeat Names, 4 New Ones
  • 2 Upstaters, 5 from the City
  • Law Schools: Albany, Buffalo (2), Columbia, Harvard, Penn, St. John’s
Well, that is quite a group.

In a future post we'll look at each of the 7 individuals.