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Judicial Affairs
Selection of NYS Supreme Court Justices


On December 15, Lai Sun Yee, AABANY President, Chris Chan, Co-Chair of the Judicial Affairs Committee (JAC), Yang Chen, Co-Chair of the JAC, and Steve Shapiro, member of the JAC, appeared at the Legislative Office Building in Albany before the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on the Judiciary in its public hearings on the selection of New York State Supreme Court Justices.

On December 15, Lai Sun Yee, AABANY President, Chris Chan, Co-Chair of the Judicial Affairs Committee (JAC), Yang Chen, Co-Chair of the JAC, and Steve Shapiro, member of the JAC, appeared at the Legislative Office Building in Albany before the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on the Judiciary in its public hearings on the selection of New York State Supreme Court Justices.

Lai Sun did an excellent job representing AABANY at the hearing.  She reiterated AABANY's opposition to open primaries as they are currently structured as a way to select Supreme Court candidates.  AABANY believes that the convention system has been more favorable to Asian-Americans and other minorities seeking to ascend the bench.  AABANY continued to refrain from taking any position on the constitutionality of the convention system.  AABANY took the position that if judicial qualifications commissions are set up to select Supreme Court justices, as proposed by the Feerick Commission, there should be a permanent seat for AABANY on any such commission.

We believe that AABANY's testimony was well received by the Assembly members who were present at the hearing, Chairman Helene Weinstein, Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine and Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell.  They were all receptive to AABANY's message of the urgent need to increase diversity on the bench.  The ethnic minority bars were uniform in opposing an appointive system for selection of judges.  When the representative from the League of Women Voters spoke up in favor of an appointive system, Chairman Weinstein asked the speaker to take back to her group the concerns raised by AABANY (mentioning our association specifically) and other minority bar associations that testified about the potentially detrimental impact that such a system would have on diversity.

After all the testimony was given, we were approached by representatives from some of the other groups that testified, such as the New York Trial Lawyers Association, who complimented us on our testimony and were interested in working further with us on pursuing the diversity goals mentioned in our testimony.  Assemblyman Lavine personally came up to us and thanked us for appearing and giving testimony.

Thanks to everyone from AABANY and the JAC who helped prepare the statement and helped us prepare for the testimony.  We will keep you apprised of any further developments.