Questions for NY’s Highest Court
Judges Caitlin Halligan and Rowan Wilson must supply answers
By The Editorial Board New York Daily News
Regular readers will be familiar with our taking issue with actions by two judges on New York’s seven-member Court of Appeals, the highest in the state. Longtime Associate Judge Rowan Wilson was nominated to be chief judge by Gov. Hochul and confirmed by the state Senate on April 18 and lawyer Caitlin Halligan was confirmed to fill Wilson’s vacancy the next day.
That Halligan’s nomination by Hochul likely violated the state Constitution is something we are not going to even address here.
On the biggest case to come before the court, should New York’s 26 congressional districts be redrawn now, just a year after the same court ordered a special master to do the job, Halligan is taking a powder, recusing herself, claiming on a form that “I have or had a close personal or professional relationship with a party or lawyer involved in this matter.”
While the New York Law Journal wrote that Halligan “recused herself because of her close ties to the governor,” we’ve spent weeks trying to figure out what happened and our only conclusion is that Halligan is citing a friendship with a lawyer who submitted a non-binding friend-of-the-court brief on behalf on the League of Women Voters. The federal appeals courts, to which Halligan was nominated several times by President Barack Obama, have a rule that the court “may prohibit the filing of or may strike an amicus brief that would result in a judge’s disqualification.” Better to keep the judge and refuse the brief.
Halligan must explain.
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