ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Governor Hochul will soon be choosing the next Chief Judge for New York’s highest Court of Appeals after former Chief Judge, Janet DiFiore resigned back in August. Experts say the weight of this decision is a heavy one. Governor Hochul will be choosing from seven candidates selected by the states Commission on Judicial Nomination. The Commission is made up of 12 members tasked with vetting the applicants. They received 41 applications which they narrowed down to seven last week.  

The Governor can make her decision by December 8, but no later than December 23. Albany Law Professor, Vincent Bonventre says The Court of Appeals is the last word at protecting civil rights for New Yorkers. “The New York Court of Appeals has traditionally been one of the great Courts in the country, one of the most influential courts in the country, sometimes even more influential than the United States Supreme Court,” he said.

Bonventre pointed to the recent decision the Supreme Court made in Dobbs vs Jackson, giving states the authority to determine their own abortion laws. He says the Court of Appeals has a history of protecting constitutional rights and liberties, “Whether it was the right to counsel, whether it was a protection against compulsory self-incrimination, whether it was free speech, whether it was freedom of the press, the New York Court of Appeals has traditionally been ahead – certainly ahead of the United States Supreme Court – but ahead of most of the courts throughout the United States.”

On the list of nominees is acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro. Bonventre says the list of applicants are all good options, “This list and actually the last several lists, we’ve had some very, very strong names on the list, so I don’t think the Governor can make a wrong choice with this particular list, some really great names on it,” he said.

In an Op-Ed with The New York Daily news, Governor Hochul said: “We need a leader who will serve as a partner to me and to my colleagues in the Legislature so that the three branches of government can work together to serve and protect New Yorkers rights and safety, to bring reforms and modernization to the courts and to ensure that justice is done.”

The Chief Judge and six associate Judges are each appointed to a 14-year term.