Appellate Judge: Espada Jr. Can’t Be Senate President Yet

ALBANY—An appellate judge just granted a temporary restraining order preventing State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. from acting as temporary president of the New York State Senate, a post he claims to have assumed during a floor coup Monday.

I’m still waiting for the actual decision, but Mike Kink, one of the top lawyers for Senate Democrats seeking to stop Espada Jr., Tweeted the results just now from a Kingston courtroom.

Earlier this morning, an administrative judge in Rensselaer County declined to issue a temporary restraining order.  As a result, a Republican-led coalition gaveled the chamber in and out of session, but acted on no bills. Republicans and Democrats will head to court tomorrow in Albany to argue for a declaration that Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith is still the Senate’s temporary president.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Smith, said the restraining order is valid until a further court order from Albany County Supreme Court, which may come Friday.

The State Senate is adjourned until Monday.

UPDATE: Here’s the ruling.

UPDATE 2: Republicans put out this statement, noting that the order only pertains to the part of the State Constitution detailing gubernatorial succession. So he could, theoretically, call another session.

Today’s decision by the Appellate Division was a victory for the new Senate Reform Coalition because it allows us to continue to convene sessions under the new leadership established Monday.
The Judge refused the desperate attempt by former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith to prevent duly elected Senators from doing their jobs and will enable us to convene session as planned.
The only ramifications of the court ruling today relates to restraining Temporary Senate President Espada from performing the duties of Governor should the Governor leave the state tonight, an issue that will be heard in court tomorrow.

Peters Ruling on Espada

Appellate Judge: Espada Jr. Can’t Be Senate President Yet