By Hank Russell
By a 10-9 margin, members of the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee voted against the nomination of Hector LaSalle to the state Court of Appeals’ chief judge.
All 10 who voted “no” were Democrats. Two of the nine who voted in favor were Democrats; six Republicans and one Democrat voted for LaSalle’s nomination, but “without recommendation.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D, WF-New York City), chair of the Senate Judicial Committee, posted on his Twitter account, “Today, I voted not to advance the nomination of Justice LaSalle to the NY Court of Appeals. We need a Chief Judge who will stand up for defendants, workers, immigrants & women. But first and foremost, we need someone to unify our highest court. This nominee isn’t that person.”
According to his biography, LaSalle was appointed by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo to the position of associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department in 2014 and again to the Second Appellate Division’s presiding justice in 2021. He has maintained connections to Long Island during his career. He was an associate attorney at Ruskin, Moscou Faltischek, P.C., a law firm headquartered in Uniondale, from 1998 to 1999. Since 2009, he has served as a justice to the New York State Supreme Court, Tenth Judicial District.
He also served in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 1998 and again from 2002 to 2008; he served as a deputy bureau chief of the Special Investigations Bureau and head of the Anti-Gang Unit. He is also a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association.
LaSalle was grilled for five hours by the committee on his decisions and his views on labor unions and abortion (LaSalle is a supporter of both, said Governor Kathy Hochul, who nominated him). Hochul said the state Constitution requires a vote from the full state Senate on the nomination.
“While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined,” Hochul said in a statement. “Several Senators stated how they were going to vote before the hearing even began — including those who were recently given seats on the newly expanded Judiciary Committee.”
Long Island Life & Politics recently published an opinion piece on how many senators would not vote for LaSalle because his record does not fit their progressive agenda. (See “NYS Progressives Oppose Hochul’s Top Judge Appointment Because He’s Too Tough on Crime,” Vol. 2 Issue 1, p. 11.) New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R, C, I-Pulaski) reiterated the same thoughts.
“Judge Hector LaSalle deserved a fair and objective process rather than the political sideshow that played out during the past several weeks,” Barclay said in a statement. “Liberal senators summarily dismissed Judge LaSalle’s candidacy based solely on political ideology before they even gave him the courtesy of a hearing or interview. The very makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee was arbitrarily changed, stacking the deck and rigging the process against Judge LaSalle despite his stellar reputation and distinguished career.”
Barclay said the nomination of a chief judge to the highest court in the state is supposed to be “a historic and significant event. It’s unfortunate that Senate Democrats turned it into an embarrassing example of woke dysfunction.”