Clergy groups on Monday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to nominate Judge Shirley Troutman to a vacancy on New York's top state court, pointing to her experience and work on a commission meant to create more equitable outcomes in the justice system. 

The push by the clergy for Troutman comes as Hochul has two vacancies on the state Court of Appeals to fill in the coming weeks and amid an unusual effort by a variety of organizations to influence the nominations. 

Hochul is being pushed by criminal justice reform advocates to nominate a judge with public defender or indigent defense experience, pointing to a court stocked by her predecessor with judges who had served as elected or appointed prosecutors. 

Troutman, meanwhile, has a background that would hit closer to home for Hochul: She is a Buffalo resident and has worked as an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College and SUNY Buffalo Law School. 

"Most importantly, Judge Troutman has exhibited the qualities throughout her career that New Yorkers need from the Court of Appeals: intellect, compassion, sensitivity, fair-mindedness and commitment to equal justice," the clergy wrote in the letter. "She will be an excellent jurist on the state’s highest court, bringing her important life and professional experiences and perspectives in deciding cases and developing the law. Throughout her career, she has continued to demonstrate the temperament that makes her a natural fit for the Court of Appeals."

Those signing onto the letter included Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson of the Grace Baptist Church, the Rev. Mark Blue of the NAACP Buffalo Chapter and Bishop Darius G. Pridgen of the True Bethel Baptist Church and the Buffalo Common Council President.