With speculation that Governor Andrew Cuomo will not leave the Court of Appeals without a black member, at least three black appellate judges have applied for the vacancy created by the November death of Theodore Jones, according to sources close to the process. The sources identified the black applicants as Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) and Dianne Renwick (See Profile) of the Appellate Division, First Department, and Cheryl Chambers (See Profile) of the Second Department.
The Commission on Judicial Nomination is expected to present Cuomo, who has stressed the need for diversity on the court, with a list of seven qualified candidates on March 7, from which the governor is required to select his nominee to replace Jones, who was the only black judge on the court.
Abdus-Salaam was among finalists for the Court of Appeals position Cuomo filled last month with the appointment of Jenny Rivera. Rivera, a CUNY law professor with Puerto Rican roots, was chosen by the governor to succeed Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who retired. Ciparick was the first and, until Rivera, only Hispanic to have served on the high court.
Another candidate on the list for the Ciparick position, Justice Rolando Acosta (See Profile) of the First Department has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Jones seat, sources confirmed. Acosta declined comment. However, a source familiar with Acosta's reasoning said he assumes the position will go to a black candidate, and he did not want to apply and possibly prevent another candidate from making the list.
The chair of the Commission on Judicial Nomination is Judith Kaye, the former chief judge who was appointed to the court in 1983 by Mario Cuomo. Kaye is now counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.