COMMUNITY MEMBERS, BAR ASSOCIATIONS AND LGBT ADVOCATES PRAISE VOTE TO NOMINATE GROUNDBREAKING, DISTINGUISHED JUDGE
Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, a jurist for two decades, had been removed from ballot last month as a result of compromised judicial selection process
CIVIC CENTER – Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Rosie Mendez joined community members, LGBT advocates and bar associations to declare victory over a flawed process that led to the removal from the ballot of an Appellate Court justice who has been a strong champion of marriage equality and tenant rights.
Last night, New York County’s 84 Judicial Delegates voted unanimously to nominate Justice Doris Ling-Cohan for re-election. The vote ensures that Justice Ling-Cohan will appear on the Democratic line of November’s ballot.
“This vote rights a terrible wrong, and allows voters – not special interests – to decide whether Justice Ling-Cohan should continue her distinguished tenure on the Appellate Court bench,” said Councilwoman Margaret Chin. “The issue in this fight has always been about judicial independence, and it is a testament to Justice Ling-Cohan’s fair and balanced rulings that so many community members, bar associations and advocates have risen to her defense. My hope is that, as a result of this unfortunate situation, the judicial screening process will be reformed to ensure that this never happens to another qualified justice.”
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez said: “Democracy worked and justice was achieved because of Doris Ling-Cohan’s record. She is a distinguished judge with published landmark decisions. I’ve attended many Judicial Conventions, however this was the most exciting and the one that I will remember with great pride. Pride because so many joined the cause to right a wrong and to ensure that we have an independent judiciary. 84 judicial delegates voted unanimously to nominate and re-elect the Doris to the Supreme Court. I get all choked up thinking about the moment that Al Handel said, ‘I proudly nominate for Supreme Court Justice …’ and then in unison the entire auditorium said ‘Doris Ling-Cohan!’ Yesterday was a great day for democracy and a great day for justice.”
Council Members Chin and Mendez led a community rally on Sept. 6 with bar associations and LGBT advocates to denounce a judicial screening panel’s decision last month to remove Justice Ling-Cohan from November’s ballot.
Justice Ling-Cohan’s distinguished career on the bench began on the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1995 when she became the first Asian American in her district elected to public office. She has since been elected to the New York State Supreme Court before being appointed to the Appellate Term in 2014 — both historic firsts.
Among Justice Ling-Cohan’s many decisions and dissents is her landmark ruling in Hernandez v. Robles in February 2005 that same-sex couples have a “fundamental right” to marry who they love.
“I am extremely pleased that Doris Ling-Cohan will wind up appearing on the ballot,“ said Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY). "She is a distinguished Justice who has served as a role model to many Asian Americans. Reversing the original decision to not include her on the ballot is the right move. I look forward to Justice Ling-Cohan continuing to serve our city well as a fair, dedicated and respected member of the bench.”
"The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Justice Ling-Cohan on her victorious nomination,” says Susan Shin, president of AABANY. “The outpouring of support for Justice Ling-Cohan from the community was moving and inspiring. AABANY is pleased to have been part of the effort to get her on the ballot, and I was privileged to have been able to see her unanimously win the floor vote and accept the nomination with a standing ovation. We will continue supporting Justice Ling-Cohan in her efforts to get re-elected to the bench and to continue her service to all New Yorkers as a dedicated member of the judiciary.”
“The Puerto Rican Bar Association is pleased that the Manhattan County judicial delegates voted unanimously to approve Judge Doris Ling-Cohan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Judge Ling-Cohan did not deserve the unfair treatment resulting from the screening process. It is clear that the judicial selection and screening process needs to be examined and evaluated to make changes to ensure transparency and that diversity on the bench. The PRBA will continue to fight for diversity on the judiciary and has launched a Task Force on the Judiciary to inspect, examine and evaluate the Judicial process due to the lack of representation of Puerto Ricans and Latinos on the bench,” said Betty Lugo, Esq., president, Puerto Rican Bar Association.
"The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York was proud to join a diverse coalition of groups working to keep Justice Doris Ling-Cohan on the bench. Her courage on behalf of our community was something we simply could not forget. In the last few weeks, we have seen the power of grassroots advocacy to maintain the independent judiciary we all want in New York,” said Matthew Skinner, Executive Director, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL).
“Nobody has figured out a better way to select judges than Manhattan’s panel system. This year it was flawed and needs to be reformed. However, mass community and political support – and the amazing activism of the panel when its members realized they had been misguided – secured the judge’s nomination. While her reputation was damaged, the recent events brought to the surface the frailty of judicial independence, the most important thing of all, and that’s the battleground now,” said retired Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman.
Bridgette Ahn, president of the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater NY, stated, “Congratulations to Justice Doris Ling-Cohan and the other nominees. I encourage the public to participate in our democratic process through civic engagement and by voting. Thanks to our public servants, including Assemblyman Keith Wright, and to the members of the Judiciary Committee and the screening panel for their service.”
"I am thrilled that we achieved an excellent result last night. It was wonderful to see diversity of support for the Justice from the APA and LGBT communities to minority bar associations and tenant rights activists. t was a true coalition of many communities that resulted in a win for the people of New York,” said immigration attorney Eve Cho Guillergan, Esq.
PHOTO CAPTION : Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (pictured, at right) and Justice Doris Ling-Cohan at last night’s judicial convention. Photo Credit: Andy Humm.
PHOTO CAPTION : Councilwoman Margaret S. Chin (pictured in front row, fourth from left) shows her solidarity with other supporters of Justice Doris Ling-Cohan at last night’s convention by wearing red — an auspicious color in Chinese culture. Photo credit: Eve Cho Guillergan.