A New York Republican state lawmaker opposes Gov. Kathy Hochul’s second choice pick to lead the state’s highest court.
State Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Anthony Palumbo said Court of Appeals Associate Justice Rowan Wilson is too soft on criminals. The state senator specifically referred to Justice Wilson’s majority opinion in last month’s decision to free a convicted rapist.
New York’s top tribunal opined the lengthy delay of more than four years between the 2009 rape and his trial violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. The controversial decision released Andrew Regan from prison and vacated his sentence.
The New York Post further reported:
State Sen. Anthony Palumbo said the decision by State of Appeals Associate Judge Rowan Wilson raises serious questions about his fitness for the bench and warrants scrutiny by New York lawmakers — who are set to hold a confirmation hearing for the nominee on Monday.
“I’m very concerned,” Palumbo (R-Brookhaven) told The Post on Sunday. “He seems to completely ignore victims’ rights. It’s frightening. It raises questions about his ability to follow the law.”
Palumbo said he now expects many GOP lawmakers to vote against Wilson’s nomination to become chief judge of New York’s highest court.
The Post reported Saturday that Wilson wrote the majority opinion in a 4-2 state appeals court decision that freed Andrew Regan from prison and cleared his conviction for the 2009 rape of a 22-year-old woman — leaving her shattered.
“It’s devastating,” said the now-37-year-old victim, who is not being identified by The Post because she still fears for her safety. “I would ask [Wilson] if he would make the same decision if it was his daughter who was the victim, because I bet he wouldn’t.”
The woman said she was out drinking with her boyfriend and another couple after an Aug. 9, 2009 wedding reception, and invited them to stay at her upstate New York home so they wouldn’t have to drive. She said she fell asleep and woke up to find Regan raping her.
Regan, 42, a former Army sergeant, denied the allegations and the case lingered until November 2012, when prosecutors said they finally obtained his DNA and lodged rape charges.
A jury convicted Regan of first-degree rape on Feb. 23, 2015 and a judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison, where he remained until this year.
On March 16, Wilson and the six-member Court of Appeals panel voted to release Regan, citing “inexplicable delays” that the judges said violated his right to a speedy trial.
The decision stunned Albany insiders and raised questions about Wilson’s nomination.
“Where are the progressives?” one source quipped. “I haven’t heard a peep from them.”
State Senate Democrats sank the nomination of Hochul’s previous pick for the chief judge post, Hector LaSalle, in February after progressives and organized labor groups opposed his nomination, claiming he was too right-leaning to lead the seven-member court.
Wilson, however, has his defenders.
“The constitution compelled the result,” Lenore Kramer, former president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, said of Wilson’s vote to free Regan. “He did what the constitution required.
“The constitution ensures everyone is entitled to a speedy trial,” said Kramer, who now chairs the Women’s Trial Lawyers Committee. “In this case the constitution prevailed, even though the facts and circumstances are difficult.”
Hochul’s office declined comment on Wilson’s rape ruling and referred The Post to comments the governor made on Friday on his selection.
“I’m focused right now on dealing with what’s right before me, which is making sure that we get a Chief Judge and fill that vacancy as soon as possible because we’ve gone so many months, coming up on a year of not having the full court in place,” Hochul said.
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