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Nominee for Top NY Judge Hector LaSalle Admits Backlash has been ‘Difficult’

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By: Serach Nissim

Recently nominated top New York Jurist admitted the outcry against him has been “difficult”.

In late December, Gov. Kathy Hochul had nominated Judge Hector LaSalle to serve as the chief judge of the Court of Appeals.  As reported by the NY Post, the decision received strong opposition from Democrats and especially progressives who fear he would push the top bench too far right if he becomes chief judge. Members of the NY Senate, labor unions, civil rights groups, the Manhattan Democratic Party, the Legal Defense Fund and other Democratic advocacy groups have spoken out trying to apply pressure on Hochul to withdraw her nomination, citing LaSalle’s record on abortion, labor, and criminal justice cases.  Gov. Hochul has refused to do so.

On Sunday, Hochul accused LaSalle’s opponents of “character assassination like I’ve never seen,” adding that he “grew up in pro-labor household.  “Dr. King called upon us to be just and be fair and not judge people,’’ she said invoking Martin Luthur King Jr.’s name right before the federal holiday honoring him.

On Friday night, in his first public comments, LaSalle, 54, spoke in Midtown to a friendly crowd of members from the Puerto Rican Bar Association. “I just want to take a moment to thank this organization for all it does — to thank so many of you who have been so supportive through what’s been a tumultuous time,” he said.  “And to let you know that no matter how difficult it has been, I’ve been nourished by your support — the phone calls, the emails when I go into the hood.All everybody’s done, nothing matters more than anything,” he added.  LaSalle declined to answer questions from a Post reporter.

As per the Post, LaSalle would be the first Hispanic to lead the state’s high court if approved by a majority of the 63-member state Senate.  Gov. Hochul has reportedly been personally lobbying top Democratic state senators to support her pick— warning at least one member of senate she will “remember” who stood with her, the Post reported.  If the governor loses this desperate battle to get her nominee approved, she would become the first governor in history to have a judicial pick for the state’s highest court rejected.

Speaking to an audience of about 200 people at the nonprofit Latino Pastoral Action Center headquarters in Mt. Eden, Hochul defended her choice of the law-and-order former prosecutor.  “I examined all the records. I saw the cases — even those that are being maligned and used against him. They are false. They are falsely representative, and that’s whyI’m standing here,” said Hochul, noting that LaSalle is “a man who stood for doing what’s right.”  “I believe that people will open up their minds and open up their hearts and do what’s right,” she added.  Responded to why she chose LaSalle, the governor said: “We still get asked ‘Why, why?’He’s heavily qualified. He’s worked so hard his whole life, rose through the ranks, overcame adversity. Why is he being held to a different standard than all the rest? I’ve yet to hear a good answer to that question.”

“I think it’s important to make the observation that beyond his clear and convincing qualifications the fact that this nomination is historic,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, one of the most prominent black leaders in the country and one of the few top NY Democrats to come out to support LaSalle.

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