Sunday, April 11, 2021

Election or Appointment: Selecting New York State Court of Appeals Judges

By Emily Gray
Emily Gray, a 2020 graduate of Albany Law School, was an Executive Editor of Notes and Comments on Albany Law Review. Emily received a B.A. in History with a minor in Criminal Justice from Hartwick College in 2017.
During law school, Emily was a research assistant to Professor Evelyn Tenenbaum. Additionally, throughout law school, Emily worked for the New York State Department of Health in the Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct. She is currently an associate at Hancock Estabrook in Syracuse.

Judges in the United States come to sit on the bench in several ways: by appointment, partisan election, and nonpartisan election. Each form of reaching the bench provides its own benefits and drawbacks. These range from the general population receiving a direct say in whom sits on the bench, judges being influenced by money and politics that are inherent in elections, and a feeling of loyalty to those who appoint the judges.

Judges that sit on the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest tribunal, currently reach the court through a merit appointment system. However, this was not always the case. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Judges were elected by the people.

This paper will evaluate the negatives and positives of partisan election, nonpartisan election, and appointment of judges across the country. It will the focus on the history of selection for the New York Court of Appeals. The paper will evaluate how the court went from an election system to a merit appointment system and evaluate Judges who reach the bench in each way. 
To read the paper, open HERE.