ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Rowan Wilson, the Governor’s pick for next Chief Judge for the state’s highest court had a public hearing with the Senate Judiciary committee on Monday. This coming after the Senate rejected the Governors previous nominee, Hector LaSalle for being “too conservative” for New York.
Wilson is a Harvard Law graduate and the state’s current Associate Judge. He was joined by his wife and daughter during the hearing. His opening remarks talked about his childhood, family, education and legal career, “Growing up, my parents … we didn’t have luxuries. But my parents gave me something considerably more important which was a great education and a strong sense of honesty and ethics,” said Wilson.
Lawmakers immediately questioned Wilson on a notably controversial case known as People v Regan, in which Wilson overturned the prison sentence of a convicted rapist after there were several delays in the trial. Wilson said the delays violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, “And it’s a horrible feeling to have to reverse a conviction in that circumstance… unfortunately, cases come to us and we have to decide those cases the way the law requires and the hardest thing is in cases like this where it causes personal damage to an individual who deserved better.” While the victim did everything right in this circumstance, Wilson said the issue lied within the system and their lack of urgency to move swiftly, “The problem is, now to vindicate those rights, for all of us, you have to do damage in an individual case,”
Senator Sean Ryan referenced the fact that Wilson has had opinions that go against the majority of those on the Court of Appeals, including his opposition to the redistricting ruling last year. “One very important thing that relates to the question of dissents and opinions generally is that the Chief Judge controls the length of conference. And one thing that I think that the Chief Judge can do, and that I would do is lengthen the conferences, so we have more discussions about the cases,” he said.
Four republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against advancing Wilson. Senator Minority Leader Rob Ortt weighed in at a press conference after the hearing. “They are more comfortable with a judge who ruled to overturn a rapist conviction,- than they were with supporting Judge LaSalle, whose only disqualifier was apparently that he was not a far left activist judge,” said Ortt. But after the three hour hearing, the Committee approved the nomination and Wilson will face a full senate vote on Tuesday.