ALBANY—Sitting next to a pile of this week's edition of the Village Voice – which featured a story about his elevation by David Paterson on its cover – Jonathan Lippman watched as some of the state's top judges and representatives of the mainstream legal community testified on his behalf, and some members of the State Senate Judiciary Committee raised questions about his nominating process.
The papers were brought by Elena Sassower, director of an organization called the Center for Judicial Accountability, which boasts on its web site of having sued the New York Times for the basis of its alleged "suppression of the documentary evidence that CJA had provided it of the corruption of judicial selection and discipline," among other things.
In her testimony, she called Lippman's appointment the "product of a corrupted merit selection process" and "unconstitutional."
"When the people of this state relinquish their right to elect judges of the Court of Appeals, because there was supposedly a better way, it's called merit selection, what they were not told was the legislature would encapsulate the process in secrecy," she said, almost shrieking. The faces of many state senators contorted in response to her testimony, and she was shunted aside after several minutes due to a five-minute time limit for testimony.
She was followed by William Galison, a member of the same group, who alleged "criminal acts" relating to protection of an attorney he says is falsely registered but was not disciplined by Lippman.
Lippman, for his part, sat with relative stoicism and whispered to Associate Judge Carmen Beauchamp-Ciparick.
The issue of diversity in candidates put forward by the Committee on Judicial Nomination was also rehashed by some of the people who provided testimony and by some state senators.
"There will come a time when we minority legislators stand up and say, 'No more, master!'" State Senator Ruben Diaz said.