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Morning Spew

It’s Friday So Let’s Check In With the Court of Appeals

Hahaha, and more links to start your day.

9:23 AM EST on December 2, 2022

Burned-out car

It’s been a while since we checked in with the Court of Appeals, our state’s highest court and one that recently has been blamed for helping Republicans narrowly win back the House after it rejected congressional redistricting maps that heavily favored Democrats in the state. 

How’re things going? Will it surprise you to hear that the answer is, haha, not great? Let’s start with former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, a Cuomo appointee and former Republican who stepped down in August amidst misconduct charges, but not before pushing the court further towards the right. She may have left her position, but it appears she wasn’t so eager to relinquish some of her taxpayer-funded perks. Via Law360: 

For months after her resignation, former New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has benefited from state-funded court officers working as her personal chauffeurs and protection detail—services that previous chiefs did not receive after they left office.

DiFiore, who stepped down in late August while facing unrelated judicial misconduct charges, is not entitled to such perks, according to state court policies on the permitted use of state vehicles enacted during her own administration. DiFiore ceased being a state employee on Aug. 31, according to the state comptroller's office...

Yet the former chief judge continues to enjoy access to a daily car service by a rotating team of on-duty court officers, according to sources. Law360 observed two court officers out of uniform waiting outside her luxury Westchester apartment complex by a black car earlier this month. DiFiore exited her residence and climbed into the back seat of the black SUV before it drove away.

According to Law360, allowing DiFiore to continue using state employees to drive her to New York Giants games and on shopping trips has cost the state at least $43,000. A nice scam if you can get away with it, which it appears she is!

DiFiore’s departure means that there’s a vacancy to be filled, and naturally, there’s some chicanery afoot. According to New York Focus, the three more liberal judges who regularly dissented from DiFiore all applied for the job as chief judge—but none made the shortlist. As the outlet notes, “The panel is controlled by a supermajority of members appointed by Janet DiFiore, the conservative departing chief judge, and her close ally former Governor Andrew Cuomo.” 

Seven people are on the shortlist, and it’s now up to Governor Kathy Hochul to give someone the red rose. 

Some links for you (but NOT for Janet DiFiore):

  • Eric Adams continues to defend his desire to forcibly hospitalize people against their will, describing it as the "humane thing to do." Meanwhile, an audit by NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that "one in four homeless shelter residents with serious mental illness were placed in city shelters that were not equipped to give them the help they needed." And Gothamist reviewed CCRB complaints and found that "New Yorkers already file hundreds of annual complaints about the practice."
  • More top NYPD chiefs—Special Operations Chief Harry Wedin, Chief of Housing Kathleen O’Reilly and Chief of Transit Jason Wilcox—are leaving, and it sure seems like they were “encouraged” to step down. As the Daily News notes, the three “serve at the discretion of the police commissioner,” but according to one source, "nobody was fired." The Post has some juicier intel on the departure of Wilcox, with NYPD sources telling the tabloid that "the chief had been on the chopping block."
  • In legal weed: Cannabis trade groups are very upset at all of those weed bodegas and have issued an alarming report as an opening salvo in their war against the gray market. Some bad news: It appears handing over management and the bulk of fundraising for our state’s $200 million cannabis racial equity fund to former NBA player Chris Webber and a sneaker entrepreneur with a history of not paying her taxes might not have been the greatest idea. Good news: Legal weed delivery is coming soon!
  • The Brooklyn bus system is getting some changes—but not until 2024. 
  • Some plucky bathroom entrepreneurs set up pay-to-pee port-a-potties next to the Brooklyn Bridge, but after Gothamist asked the Parks Department about these heroes, the City shut them down. 
  • Amazon still sucks, and the NLRB in particular is not happy about this:
  • And finally: congrats, I guess?

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