According to a system established in 1977 by constitutional amendment, the governor appoints judges to the New York Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—from names submitted by the Commission on Judicial Nomination. The Commission recently began the process of filling the first of two vacancies on the high court by offering seven names for Governor Cuomo’s consideration. The seven nominees were selected from 75 applicants, 36 of whom were interviewed by the Commission. It is a very diverse group of nominees: “[F]our are women, three are Hispanic, one is black and one is Asian. One is openly gay. Three are sitting appellate judges, three are practicing attorneys and one runs a social service organization.”
After the Commission “hit bottom” and “stumbled on” under recent governors, it was recently reconstituted under the leadership of former chief judge Judith Kaye. Based on the qualifications and diversity of experience of this group of nominees, the Commission’s work appears to have improved substantially.