Compromise in the Selection of a Chief Judge

By Scott Fein | February 10, 2023

The process of appointing of a chief judge has taken on an adversarial quality that feels unseemly. Does the State Constitution obligate the Senate to ignore its procedures for processing nominations, who knows and how many of the body politic care? Granted, while not an unimportant issue, the rift that may follow between the Legislature and Governor as they struggle could impair the future collaboration necessary to address the substantive issues confronting our state. Borrowing from the adage ‘politics is the art compromise’, might there be a way forward. Simply put, swapping positions. Both Judge Lasalle, the Governor’s choice for Chief Judge, and Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, the candidate proposed as the State’s new Chief Administrative Judge, have strong credentials as jurists and administrators, and both have been recommended for the position of Chief Judge by the Commission on Judicial Nomination.

It will require a little flexibility; the current nomination would have to be withdrawn prior to consideration by the entire Senate, allowing for the swap without requiring the Commission to restart the selection process.

How cool would it be, if the Governor and Senate issue a joint statement noting that ‘the issue is too complex and our relationship too important, and so we endeavored to compromise.’ The parties need not relinquish their legal positions and live to argue another day. Those who are cynical about government would be stopped in their tracks and the rest of us, why the applause would be deafening.


Scott Fein, Editor, Making A Modern Constitution: The Prospects of Constitutional Reform in New York