The Commission on Judicial Nomination—the panel that screens candidates for the Court of Appeals—has been unusually busy. In the past two years, four new judges have joined the court, and in the next couple years the other three jurists on the state’s highest court will step aside—including Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, whose term concludes at the end of 2015. That means Governor Andrew Cuomo will be only the second governor in state history to have appointed all seven judges of the state’s highest court; the other was his father, Governor Mario Cuomo, who left an incredibly balanced court with three Democrats, three Republicans and an independent.
But how does the process work, how does an applicant get to and through the vetting process?
This spring, I was fortunate to pose those questions and more to former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, chair of the Commission on Judicial Nomination, for one of our “Amici” podcasts. Judge Kaye graciously shared her time and insight into the appointive process, which was established in 1977 to replace the elective system with a merit appointment system. In our interview, Judge Kaye opened a window into the workings of the Commission and what it is seeking in candidates to succeed Chief Judge Lippman.
The “Amici” podcast series was created to share information and perspective from New York’s judges and the Unified Court System with constituents, stakeholders and anyone else who might have an interest in these topics. Included are interviews with judges and other participants in the justice system and commentary on current issues of interest to the bench, bar and public. The full archive is available at