January 3rd, 2007

Pataki Got Low Marks For Judicial Diversity

On the front page of today’s New York Law Journal is a story about the 58 Supreme Court Justices that former New York Gov. George Pataki elevated to the four appellate divisions, New York’s intermediate appellate courts.

Of the 58, a whopping 83 percent were white men. Two were black, two were Hispanic and eight were women (one of whom is black). Pataki was also criticized for going outside the jurisdictions of the two New York City departments (1st and 2nd Appellate Divisions) in order to find his judges, instead of elevating Supreme Court justices from the area.

While the appointed judges were naturally conservative, given that Pataki is Republican, the article doesn’t criticize any of the judges based on lack of intelligence or seriousness.

I had posted just yesterday that one of the first executive orders Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed had to do with new judicial screening committees, and that they seemed to be designed to remove some of the political baggage that has haunted judicial selections in the past. I would guess that these screening committees, which will be bi-partisan, will put a focus on diversity that the Pataki administration lacked.