Unified Bars Coalition Issues Ratings for Chief Judges Candidates

This article was originally featured in the New York Law Journal on April 4, 2023 and written by Brian Lee.

Each of the bar groups notified Gov. Kathy Hochul of its respective ratings. Hochul is slated to nominate her pick for chief judge between April 8 and April 23. The Senate would then have 30 days to confirm or reject the nomination.

The 10-member Unified Bars Screening Coalition unveiled their ratings of the seven finalists for chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

The Black Bar Consortium, led by the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, gave Court of Appeals Associate Judge Rowan Wilson its highest set of ratings, designating the six-year high court judge a rating of “exceptionally highly qualified.” 

Corey Stoughton, attorney in charge of special litigation at the Legal Aid Society, and Court of Appeals Associate Judge Shirley Troutman were among its next tier, receiving ratings of “highly qualified.”

The bar rated acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro, Appellate Division, Third Department Presiding Justice Elizabeth Garry, Appellate Division, Fourth Department Presiding Justice Gerald Whalen and Caitlin Halligan, a partner in Selendy Gay Elsberg, “qualified.”

The Defense Association of New York rated Cannataro, Stoughton, Troutman and Wilson “well qualified and recommended,” while rating each of the other three finalists “well qualified.”

The New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers rated Garry, Halligan, Troutman, Wilson and Whalen “exceptionally well qualified.” The academy reused its December ratings of Cannataro and Stoughton to designate them both “well qualified.”

The New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers rated Stoughton and Wilson “superior,” Garry, Halligan, Troutman and Whalen “well qualified,” and Cannataro “qualified.”

The Puerto Rican Bar rated six of the finalists “highly qualified,” with Stoughton receiving a “qualified” designation. 

The Tri-County Bar Association—consisting of Erie, Monroe and Onondaga counties—rated five of the finalists “highly qualified,” with Halligan and Stoughton rated “qualified.”

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York rated six of the finalists “highly qualified and commended,” with Cannataro designated “highly qualified.”

The Women’s Trial Lawyers Caucus rated Stoughton, Troutman and Wilson “highly qualified,” and Cannataro, Garry, Halligan and Whalen “qualified.”

The Asian American Bar Association of the State of New York rated each of the seven finalists “highly qualified.” 

The New York City Bar Association rated all seven “well qualified.”

Each of the bar groups notified Gov. Kathy Hochul of its respective ratings. Hochul is slated to nominate her pick for chief judge between April 8 and April 23. The Senate would then have 30 days to confirm or reject the nomination.

Two of the associations’ ratings were accompanied by statements that expressed disappointment in what they said was a lack of diversity among the finalists.

The Puerto Rican Bar said it continued to express dismay over the Senate’s rejection of Appellate Division, Second Department Presiding Justice Hector LaSalle on Feb. 15, along with “the utter failure to include anyone of Latino heritage on the present short list to serve as Chief Judge.”

Karen Kim, president of AABANY, said the association ”is disappointed at the lack of candidates of Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) or Latino descent on the judicial nominations list for the Governor’s consideration, dealing a serious setback to diversity in the highest court of New York State. ”

The unified bar continued a combined screening process that had begun during the pandemic. Interviews were conducted virtually.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email
Print

LEARN HOW THE BAEC CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

X