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New York Names Rowan D. Wilson As First Black Chief Judge

New York Names Rowan D. Wilson As First Black Chief Judge

He’s leading the change!

The New York Senate just confirmed Rowan D. Wilson as the state’s first Black chief judge, U.S. News reports. According to Daily News, for 25 years he served as a law partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, while also serving as chairman of Harlem’s Neighborhood Defender Service for more than two decades. Since 2017, he has been an associate judge of the Court of Appeals, heading the state’s highest court. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed Wilson to head the seven-member high court after her initial nominee, Hector LaSalle, was rejected in an unprecedented moment. LaSalle faced harsh criticism from liberal senators who didn’t agree with his decision as an appeals judge. Wilson is a Harvard Law School grad who fairs favorable with liberals, praised for his track record on issues surrounding civil rights, labor and the environment.

“Judge Rowan Wilson is a highly qualified jurist with a keen sense of fairness and a deep commitment to justice. Throughout his tenure on the bench, he has proven himself to be a thoughtful leader who recognizes the power of the judiciary to impact the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Governor Hochul via statement.

Wilson has been criticized by Republicans for being what they call an “activist judge,” and had to endure some challenges during the three-hour confirmation hearing. Still, he has stood by his decisions and is not afraid to dissent, even in tough rulings. 

“Judge Wilson has proven himself to be one of the most thoughtful, well-written and persuasive jurors in the nation, and in the history of the Court of Appeals,” said state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, chair of the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Wilson will succeed Judge Janet DiFiore, who resigned last August. Hochul is expected to fill his position as an associate judge with former state solicitor general Caitlin Halligan. 

Congratulations Chief Judge Wilson!

Cover photo: New York names Rowan D. Wilson as first Black chief judge/Photo Courtesy of Hans Pennink/Associated Press