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N.Y. Criminal Justice Group to Push for More Scrutiny of Judges

A group that helped thwart the confirmation of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s choice to lead New York’s highest court last year has announced a campaign aimed at pushing elected officials to more closely scrutinize judicial nominees and appointees across the state.

The group, the Center for Community Alternatives, which advocates for criminal justice reform, argued in a letter to Ms. Hochul this month that New York governors, who can nominate and appoint judges to several state courts, and the State Senate, which confirms the nominations, have failed to properly evaluate judges’ records and fitness to serve before placing them on the bench.

The new campaign, The Court New York Deserves, argues that reappointments have become routine, and that “too many people with influence over judicial selection have come to take for granted that once judges are put on the bench, they will serve until they reach the mandatory retirement age.”

In its letter, the group urged Ms. Hochul to “change course from your predecessors and only nominate for reappointment judges who have shown sound judgment, exceptional integrity and commitment to New York’s values.”

A spokesman for the governor, Avi Small, said on Monday that “as she has done since taking office, Governor Hochul will select judicial nominees based on their experience, qualifications and judicial temperament.”

The campaign comes at a time when judges in New York are facing heightened scrutiny, particularly in the debates around bail reform, and a year after the Center for Community Alternatives spearheaded a grass-roots campaign against Ms. Hochul’s pick for chief judge, Justice Hector D. LaSalle, that led to the State Senate’s first-ever rejection of a governor’s nominee for that post.

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