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New York Senate appoints Rowan Wilson as state’s first Black chief judge

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On April 18, 2023, Rowan Wilson became New York’s first Black chief judge after being confirmed by the State’s Senate. His appointment comes two months after Governor Kathy Hochul’s initial nominee for the position was rejected by lawmakers. Wilson has been an associate judge of the Court of Appeals since 2017, and his appointment as chief judge was made by Hochul earlier this month. The confirmation process was marked by a political struggle between Hochul and the Democrats who control the Senate over the future of the state’s judiciary.

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Ms. Hochul had initially nominated Hector LaSalle for the top court post, but he faced opposition from liberal senators and their supporters, who criticized his decisions as an appeals judge. Mr. Wilson, who has a strong record on civil rights, labour and environmental issues, was nominated by Ms. Hochul as a more acceptable choice to liberals. The confirmation of Mr. Wilson as the State’s first Black chief judge came after the resignation of Judge Janet DiFiore in August. However, Mr. Wilson’s confirmation has left a vacancy for an associate judge on the highest court.

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