Sunday, January 14, 2007

Adding Color to the Bench

As we have previously noted, Governor Spitzer will probably appoint three judges to the seven member Court of Appeals this year. Today, Capitol Confidential reports that Governor Spitzer has just announced his first Court of Appeals nomination, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones.

We are certain that there are many ways in which Justice Jones differs from any of the six members Governor Pataki appointed in his 12 years in office. But as Capitol Confidential points out -- there is one way that is immediately obvious and is likely to garner significant media attention: Justice Jones is African American.

Governor Patatki's final appointment on August 18, 2006 of Eugene Pigott left the Court of Appeals without a single judge of color for the first time in over 20 years. At the time, many of the State's leading politicians were mystified. "To think that in this state, with the enormous minority population that we have, that of those seven jurists (on the Court of Appeals) there's not one of color I'm saddened," former Mayor Dinkins said in an interview with The New York Times.

The need for more judges of color is more than just symbolism. A survey conducted by the Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections found that 71 percent of registered voters in New York believe that the state's judges are fair and impartial, but only 51 percent of black voters surveyed believed that they are. Having more minorities on the bench would go a long way toward making all New Yorkers feel that they can receive a fair day in court. More diversity among judges would also mean that decisions would reflect a broader range of perspectives.

Accordingly, we applaud Governor Spitzer for turning around an ABYSMAL record on diversity with his first nomination. The Senate will have to confirm or reject Justice Jones within 30 days of receiving his nomination.

Categories: General, Judicial Selection

No comments: