By SILE MOLONEY
Public defenders, The Legal Aid Society, released a statement Monday, July 12, in response to the announcement by New York State Court of Appeals Chief Justice Janet DiFiore that she will step down. next month after seven years in the position. Public defenders are calling for a progressive judge to be appointed to the bench.
“The Legal Aid Society thanks Chief Justice Janet DiFiore for her years of public service and her efforts to improve New York’s justice system, strengthen funding for civil legal service organizations, and improve our clients’ access to justice. justice”, an excerpt from the statement read . “We implore Governor Kathy Hochul to now appoint an attorney to the New York State Court of Appeals who has served as a public defender, civil legal services attorney, or both, and equally important, of the neighborhoods we serve. , historically marginalized communities of color. “, continues the press release.
Earlier this week, the New York Law Journal shared an excerpt from DiFiore’s resignation letter. “On August 31, 2022, I will step down as Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York and move on to the next chapter of life, deeply proud of what we have been able to accomplish together and eternally grateful. to each of you for your commitment to excellence,” the letter reportedly read.
According to the New York Law Journal, DiFiore wrote that she set out to bring operational and adjudicative excellence to all levels of the justice system while leading the High Court in crafting a strong and predictable body of law. to guide communities, the economy and people. and the working life of citizens.
As noted, DiFiore recently oversaw the redistricting decision by the New York Court of Appeals that rejected redrawn maps of the state Senate and congressional districts proposed by state Democrats and approved by the Legislature. of State. [with a Democratic majority] in early February, after the court ruled them unconstitutional. A special court-appointed master was instead tasked with redrawing alternate maps that were not ‘gerrymandered’. The revised maps have been duly redrawn and it is on the basis of these maps that voters will vote in the upcoming state primaries on August 23.
As also reported, a successful legal challenge filed in the courts means that the redrawn maps of the state assembly district, which were also approved by the state legislature in February 2022, will also ultimately be redrawn by a court-appointed special master, but not until 2024. Voters voted in the recent primary elections on June 28 based on cards approved by the state legislature in February 2022.
In its July 12 statement, the Legal Aid Society went on to say that the absence of a public defender and a civil legal services attorney at the New York State Court of Appeals has created a huge knowledge and experience gap, which they said was particularly problematic given what they said were critical issues facing the Court and the justice system as a whole.
“The public deserves a representative on the bench who knows the struggles that our customers, black and Latino New Yorkers, are forced to endure every day,” the statement concluded. “We look forward to working with Albany lawmakers to ensure a nomination that reflects these critical voices takes place.”
Although considered a conservative, DiFiore“State of Our Judiciary Address” was endorsed by the Legal Aid Society in February. During his speech, DiFiore called on Albany lawmakers to adopt the New York State Office of Court Management’s proposal to simplify and consolidate the court system.
“As recognized by the Chief Justice Janet DiFiorebarriers to equal justice are widespread and systemic in nature, and we must take meaningful action to correct what court officials themselves call a ‘second-class justice system’ for low-income litigants of color,” representatives of the Legal Aid Society wrote at the time.
“We fully support the Chief Justice Janet DiFioreto simplify and consolidate New York’s overly complicated and redundant court system. Additionally, we fully support measures that would address long-standing racial inequalities that have plagued our customers and all New Yorkers of color for far too long,” the statement continued.
He concluded: “We now have the opportunity to reform our courts and create a simple, modern and fairly structured judicial system. Finally, the Legal Aid Society is calling on Albany to act immediately on the Chief Justice’s plan to codify these necessary changes into law.
According to its representatives, the Legal Aid Society exists for a simple but powerful reason: to ensure that New Yorkers are not deprived of their right to equal justice because of poverty. For 145 years, its leaders say it has protected, defended and defended those who have struggled in silence for too long.