What "Tough On Crime" Looks Like: How George Pataki Transformed the New York State Court of Appeals

82 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2019

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

George Pataki publicly attacked the New York State Court of Appeals on November 1, 1995, accusing the state's highest appellate court of "coddling" criminal court defendants and establishing "irrational, mindless, procedural safeguards" that aided defense attorneys and hindered prosecutors. Given these statements, and other public declarations that the Court of Appeals acted too favorably toward criminal court defendants, one would reasonably expect that each of Pataki's appointments to the Court of Appeals would have offered a significant track record of "tough on crime" stances, thus resolving the problem in the Court's jurisprudence that Pataki had highlighted.

This article, however, shows that plenty of factors beyond criminal law jurisprudence actually influenced Pataki's Court of Appeals appointments. Despite his public condemnations of the Court's record in these cases, Pataki actually appointed very few judges to the Court who possessed an obvious tendency to rule in favor of prosecutors and against defendants. By examining in detail all of Pataki's Court of Appeals appointments, a far more nuanced picture emerges regarding the factors that led to these choices -- a selection process that went far beyond whether the individual in question truly was "tough on crime."

Keywords: New York State Court of Appeals, George Pataki, Judicial Appointments, Judges, Conservative, Tough on Crime, Judicial Process, Judge Robert Smith, Judge Eugene Pigott

Suggested Citation

Pomerance, Benjamin, What "Tough On Crime" Looks Like: How George Pataki Transformed the New York State Court of Appeals (2015). Albany Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 1, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3320038

Benjamin Pomerance (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

United States

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