Spectrum News: Some call to reform the judicial nomination process in New York

After a historic failed confirmation vote, New York has a confirmed nominee for chief judge of the Court of Appeals — Judge Rowan Wilson. Now the process for selecting a judge for the top court is under the microscope. Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, told Capital Tonight that the current system is “arbitrary and it’s not transparent.”

Gianaris says nothing has been put on the table yet but there are contemplations about a “simpler, stripped down” nominating process that would allow the governor to appoint anyone they’d like and then have that nominee face Senate confirmation, similar to the federal model.

Gianaris adds, “if you don’t think there’s politics involved in how the commission does its work, you’re not paying attention.”

Currently, when a vacancy occurs for one of the seven seats on the Court of Appeals, the Commission on Judicial Nomination is tasked with creating a short list of candidates for the governor to consider and find a nominee from. Once a nominee has been selected, they face a confirmation vote in the state Senate. Prior to the creation of the commission, voters would elect members to the Court of Appeals.

On Tuesday, the state Senate, along party lines, confirmed Rowan Wilson, an associate judge on the Court of Appeals, to succeed Janet DiFiore as the state’s chief Judge. Wilson’s successful confirmation comes after the governor’s first pick for the role, state Supreme Court Presiding Justice Hector LaSalle, was voted down by the Senate. Former state Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan has been nominated to take Wilson’s current seat as an associate judge on the Court of Appeals.

Halligan is expected to face the full Senate for a confirmation vote later this week.