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Morning Spew

Let’s Check in on Kathy Hochul’s OTHER Fiasco (the Court of Appeals) [Updated]

And more news for your Monday.

8:46 AM EDT on April 10, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul hosts a meeting with the New York State Police and New York State Education Department on recent “swatting” incidents. (Mike Groll / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

As Governor Kathy Hochul continues to delay the passage of the state budget over her insistence that judges should have more authority to put people in jail, let's not forget that there's another pressing problem that is also wholly of her own making that she needs to deal with: who to nominate (again!) as the state's top judge, which she has to do according to state law by April 23.

She has a new list of names to work off of: Toward the end of March, Hochul was sent a slate of seven new candidates for the job by the state's Commission on Judicial Nomination. Included on that list is Rowan Wilson, a current Court of Appeals judge and a favorite of progressive groups. If nominated, Wilson would become the first Black judge to lead the state's highest court. But if Hochul's pick of Hector LaSalle is any indication, she might have her eye on current acting chief judge Anthony Cannataro, one of the conservative judges on the court.

If Hochul is leaning toward Cannataro, she'll likely face criticism not only over his judicial ideology, but because the New York State Bar Association ranked him below five other candidates on the list

Meanwhile, in the absence of a chief judge, fixes to the longstanding problems facing the Court of Appeals are stuck in a "holding pattern." Via City & State:

On a recent New York City Bar Association conference call, former longtime New York City corporation counsel Michael Cardozo found himself discussing what he described as a "modest proposal" with others on the call. They wanted court leadership to offer support for the proposal, but Cardozo told them they would likely have to wait until at least June. He does not expect the judicial branch to have a new leader until then, and he doubts that anything of import will happen in the meantime. "The courts aren’t going to do anything until they know who their new leadership is," Cardozo told City & State. "There's total paralysis."

The judicial branch has largely remained in a holding pattern since former state Chief Judge Janet DiFiore stepped down last August. While the assessment from Cardozo may paint a slightly more dire picture than reality—the courts have continued to operate and hear cases in that time—the judiciary has been treading water as a whole under the temporary leadership of Acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro as judges and staffers alike await the appointment and confirmation of their new boss, whose full term will last 14 years.

Who will get the rose? Will it also be delayed, much like the budget? Only time will tell! 

Update (1:54 p.m.): Hochul has chosen Rowan D. Wilson, an associate judge already on the Court of Appeals, to be its new chief judge. She also nominated former solicitor general Caitlin Halligan to fill Wilson's seat on the court.

In a statement, Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris applauded the nomination of one of the court's most progressive members: "He is exactly the type of person who can restore the integrity and reputation of the Court of Appeals after the damaging tenure of the previous administration."

And now for some non-delayed links:

  • Via the New York Times: "Life expectancy dropped citywide from 82.6 years in 2019 to 78 years in 2020, a drop of 4.6 years."
  • Rikers correction officers are getting away with pretty much everything, according to the jail's federal monitor. Via the Daily News: "Of 3,902 use-of-force cases received from July through December, 1,984 were closed with no action—some 51% of all cases, the highest percentage in at least three years, Martin and his staff reported. The percentage of cases referred for a full investigation plummeted to 2%, or 84 of 3,902 cases—a sharp drop compared with prior years…Charges were dropped in at least 485 cases in which correction officers used physical force to combat or quell city jail detainees that was 'excessive, unnecessary or avoidable,' the report said. Those 485 dropped cases included allegations involving blows to detainees' heads and higher-level uses of force that are required to be fully investigated."
  • Because there are so many eviction cases, legal aid groups say they need $461 million in the next budget to make right to counsel a reality. 
  • Not enough parents are signing their kids up for free pre-K, and one reason is definitely Mayor Adams's austerity regime. Via the New York Times: "At the city's Education Department, a preschool outreach group of four dozen or so workers has shrunk in recent years, and remaining staff members were folded into other teams, two current employees said."
  • The DOT is still working with a private contractor that allegedly has a tendency to do shoddy work and overbill the City, cool.
  • Rutgers University faculty are on strike
  • If Jesus was alive today, he’d probably be beat up by the Parks Department or the NYPD."
  • Won't Steve Cohen think of the Mets tailgaters???
  • And finally, RIP, Jungle Boys. The weed bodega near City Hall will be "replaced by a new business called 'Broadway Organic'" that "appears to be focused on different kinds of greens like salads."
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