First Formal Report on NY Judicial Selection by a Minority Bar Group
(New York, NY – January 18, 2006) LAWFUEL – The New York Hispanic Bar Task Force on Judicial Selection (the “Task Force”) today issued a report calling on the State of New York to make the existing judicial nominating convention system for the selection of Justices of the New York Supreme Court more open and to take steps to pass a constitutional amendment establishing a commission-based appointment system for Supreme Court Justices. The Task Force includes members and leaders from the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Dominican Bar Association, the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County, and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
Judicial selection in New York is under evaluation due to recent court decisions that declared the current nominating convention system for Supreme Court unconstitutional because it does not afford an adequate opportunity for a candidate to be nominated without the support of local party leaders. The Task Force recommends that the legislature immediately enact legislation that would make the current system more transparent and accessible. The Task Force also calls for a constitutional amendment to establish a commission-based appointment system, in which a bi-partisan nominating commission comprised of a diverse cross-section of the community would nominate three to five individuals for consideration for appointment by the Governor. Going forward, any system that New York passes must have diversity as a guiding principle.
“This report is a product of many months of analysis, deliberation and fact-finding,” said Daniel R. Alonso, HNBA member and Chair of the Task Force. “Ultimately, we determined that a commission-based appointment system is the ideal system to ensure that our Supreme Court justices embody the important judicial virtues of competence, independence, fairness and diversity. We believe that this and a modification of the nominating convention system are preferable to an open elective primary system, which would require prospective judges to raise money for elections from the very lawyers that appear before them.”
“The HNBA is deeply concerned about practices that cause mistrust and lack of confidence in the legal process, factors that greatly erode progress towards a fair and independent judiciary,” said Jimmie V. Reyna, HNBA National President. “The Task Force undertook a critical task and delivered an excellent report that carefully reviews judicial selection in New York, and provides important guidance to the New York State Legislature. The HNBA will continue its support and work on this important matter.”
The HNBA is a non-profit, non-partisan, and national association representing the interests of over 38,000 Hispanic American attorneys, judges, law professors, law graduates, law students, legal administrators, and legal assistants or paralegals in the United States and Puerto Rico. The mission of the HNBA is to improve the study, practice, and administration of justice for all Americans by ensuring the meaningful participation of Hispanics in the legal profession and to address legal issues that affect the Hispanic community.