Organizations call on governor to nominate chief judge to bring independence and fighting for most vulnerable

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NEW YORK – More than 110 organizations sent Governor Hochul an open letter calling on her to nominate a new chief judge who, as a member of New York’s highest court and the head of the entire state court system, will “safeguard New Yorkers’ rights, bring independence and a demonstrated appreciation for the law’s power to protect the most vulnerable, and defend our democracy in the challenging years ahead.” 

The letter follows the unexpected resignation of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who was appointed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. As the letter explains, DiFiore presided over the Court of Appeals’ “conservative turn—most dramatically displayed in its decision in Harkenrider v. Hochul to give redistricting power to a single trial court judge.”

The letter goes on to explain that “Under Chief Judge DiFiore, the Court of Appeals has heard fewer cases than ever beforeespecially criminal appeals, and has written fewer and shorter decisions than previous courts. Its decisions have harmed workersimmigrants, and tenantscurtailed New Yorkers’ rightsundermined our state’s democratic institutions, and made it more difficult for the state to protect our natural environment. This Court’s priorities have been clear—and they have been clearly wrong for New York.”

In light of what the groups call “the regressive turn of the U.S. Supreme Court”, the letter states that “[T]he Court of Appeals can and should act as a bulwark against such federal attacks, protecting New Yorkers and defending the rule of law.”