Monday, December 11, 2006

It's justice for all says Spitzer

Newsday SpinCycle

Eliot Spitzer has said it won't be a matter of race when, as governor, he gets his turn to choose nominees to 14-year terms on the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.Earlier this year the seven-member top tribunal lost its only African-American judge, George Bundy Smith, whose term ended in September.For now, the list of nominees includes six state judges and one partner in a law firm. They are:Justice Steven W. Fischer of the Appellate Division in Queens;Justice Richard Andrias of the Appellate Division in New York City;Justice Theodore T. Jones Jr. of the state Supreme Court in New York City;Justice Thomas E. Mercure of the Appellate Division in Albany;Judge Juanita Bing Newton of the state Court of Claims;Justice James A. Yates of state Supreme Court in New York City;George Carpinello, a partner in an Albany law firm and a former professor at Albany Law School. From the current list, Newton and Jones Jr. are black.When Pataki chose not to reappoint Smith, some criticized him, including Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Spitzer ally who succeeds Spitzer's lieutenant governor, David Paterson, as the top Democrat in the Senate controlled by Republicans.Smith, then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the time that Spitzer "has given me his word" that he will appoint more minorities.Mercure, Fischer and Andrias were among the finalists earlier this year when Republican Gov. George Pataki chose appellate Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. of western New York to replace Smith."Do I value diversity? Absolutely," Spitzer was quoted by the Associated Press as saying last month. "But I don't think you say there needs to be representation of any race. I think that would diminish those who would be appointed to that set of rules."

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