New York state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris says he will oppose the confirmation of Judge Hector LaSalle to be the next chief judge of the state's Court of Appeals, putting the judge's confirmation in doubt.
"While I respect the Governor's prerogative to nominate a Chief Judge of her choosing, the most important criteria must be to ensure a change from the harmful tenure of Janet DiFiore and her three followers still serving on the Court of Appeals," Gianaris, of Queens, said in a statement Thursday. "Unfortunately, there appears to be a great possibility that Justice LaSalle would represent a continuation of the unacceptable status quo that has sullied the reputation of our state's highest court and ruled inconsistenctly with the values held dear by New Yorkers. Accordingly, I would be compelled to vote 'no' should this nomination be brought to a vote."
A week after Gov. Kathy Hochul nominated LaSalle to replace Janet DiFiore, there have been a growing number of state senators — 12 on record at this time — who have publicly stated they will not support putting him on the bench. The nominee must be confirmed by the chamber.
It’s unlikely Democrats will let this nomination go to the floor now, a source told Spectrum News 1. LaSalle would need Republican votes to get confirmed, and it would go against practice for them to rely on minority party votes.
Confirmations for judicial nominations are often pro-forma events in Albany. But the Court of Appeals nominations are being more closely watched in recent years by progressives and some Democratic lawmakers.
LaSalle has served as the presiding justice of the Second Department since 2021, leading a state appeallate court that has 21 associate justices and more than 400 employees with a budget of $69 million.
For her part, Gov. Hochul said later Thursday that she stands by her nominee.
"Judge LaSalle is a highly qualified highly experienced, and respected jurist, and his historic nomination deserves a full hearing and confirmation process," she said in a sstatement. "I expect that the Senate will fulfil their constitutional duties and engage in a robust, fair process. I know that Judge LaSalle is the best candidate for the job, and I beliecve that when Senators hear from him directly, they will agree."