Gov. Hochul Nominates Rowan Wilson for Chief Judge Following Rejection of Original Pick

Legislative Gazette photo by Rikun Zhu. The New York State Court of Appeals in Albany.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has nominated Judge Rowan D. Wilson on April 10, to assume the vacant position of Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. This comes after her initial choice, Hector LaSalle, was rejected by fellow Democrats in the state Senate.

The nomination, Wilson said, would be “the honor of [his] career” and he intends to place “top priority” on justice, and the protection of New Yorkers’ rights.

Since 2017, Wilson has served as one of the associate judges on the Court of Appeals. If elected, he would be New York State’s first Black chief judge. 

On Jan. 15, 2017, Judge Wilson was nominated to serve as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. On Feb. 6, 2017, the New York State Senate confirmed his nomination. Photo courtesy of New York State Court of Appeals

Wilson has already received enthusiastic approval from New York Senate members who had expressed disapproval for LaSalle’s nomination, including Senate Deputy Leader, Michael Gianaris, D-Queens. Gianaris said Wilson is exactly the type of person who can restore the integrity and reputation of the Court of Appeals after the damaging tenure of the previous administration.” 

Due to more seemingly moderate views than Wilson and with decisions that have been viewed as “anti-abortion,” the majority of the Senate Democrats rejected the nomination of Hector LaSalle in fear of setbacks in the push for stronger abortion protections.

In conjunction with Wilson’s nomination, Gov. Hochul has announced her additional nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan, former New York Solicitor General and General Counsel to the New York County District Attorney, to fill this potential Associate Judge opening and has demonstrated support for Wilson’s recommendation for the appointment of Joseph Zayas for Chief Administrative Judge.

Along with announcing her support for Judge Wilson, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, released a statement including her favorable opinion on Judge Halligan who as she noted, “has an impressive legal resume and a strong legal mind, to fill the potentially vacant Associate Judge position.”