ALBANY – NYGOP Chair Ed Cox released the following statement:
“Today’s ceremony of the installation of Governor Hochul’s appointee Justice Renwick as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the First Department is a moment to consider the ethical issues raised by the Court of Appeals decision in the politically charged Hoffmann redistricting case.
“Breaking precedent, Chief Judge Wilson vouched in Justice Renwick to sit on the Hoffmann case after the highly unusual unexplained recusal of newly appointed Associate Judge Caitlin Halligan. Halligan did sit on the Court as it considered preliminary motions about the case. Was her recusal caused by a later filed amicus brief by the League of Woman Voters as the Daily News speculated in an editorial? But an amicus brief should not be a cause for a recusal.
“Halligan’s recusal resulted in Wilson’s unusual vouching in of Justice Renwick. Wilson should never have appointed Renwick since she already had ruled on questions at issue in Hoffmann in the Assembly redistricting case. Renwick was not a neutral judge in this case, but despite this conflict, Wilson appointed her.
“There is also the question of whether Wilson should have recused himself from this politically charged case, since he was muscled into the Chief Judge position for admittedly political reasons by Democrats in the Senate.
“Former Judge Joe Bellacosa, one of our preeminent New York jurists, last week in the New York Law Journal lamented that Chief Judge Wilson’s vouched in Justice Renwick cast the deciding vote in Hoffmann thereby undermining institutional practice and precedent on the Court of Appeals. Bellacosa said: “Politicians on the losing side of Hoffmann litigation may not be the only losers in this bruising battle, no matter the results of the short-term map-making do-over; longer term institutional values have been dispatched, along with the recent precedent.”
“The ethically questionable decisions made by Governor Hochul, Chief Judge Wilson and Presiding Justice Renwick, by ruining the reputation of the Court of Appeals to fairly decide politically controversial questions, have undermined public confidence in our judiciary. No amount of ceremony today can obscure this fact.”