Republicans, Too, Claim Judge-Shopping

ALBANY—Facing at least a temporary legal setback, Republicans are blasting a judge who overrode their injunction to prevent Richard Ravitch from exercising the powers of lieutenant governor.

"I think it was deliberate. I think he was judge shopping and he was wrong," said State Senator Marty Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, noting that Judge L. Priscilla Hall was appointed to the Appellate Division Second Department four months ago. "I find it pretty shocking that this governor, out of all the judges in the state of New York, he would have to choose judges that he just raised to the next level in appointment within the next four months."

If this sounds familiar, it is. Democrats, including the governor himself, were attacking Republicans for filing their court challenge to the constitutionality of Ravitch's appointment in Nassau County instead of Albany. Now the case has been appealed to Brooklyn, and everyone expects it will work its way to the nine-judge Court of Appeals in Albany.

I asked Blair Horner, an advocate of transparency, ethics and such, if this boded poorly for public confidence in the ultimate result of the case.

"I hope it's just the typical antics that you see from whatever one side thinks they're on better ground, depending on the ideological orientation of the judge," he said. "It's hard to say. This is, in our opinion, not a slam dunk one way or another. Reasonable people can differ, and that may be the way the court ultimately comes down one way or another. I'm hoping at the Court of Appeals level, that that's the court of last resort and no one will attack the judges themselves."