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US appeals court rules selection of NY judges by conventions unconstitutional

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] has upheld [opinion, PDF] a lower court ruling that the selection process for New York Supreme Court [official website] judges is unconstitutional. US District Court Judge John Gleeson [official profile] ruled [opinion, PDF] in January that the state's system of nominating its elected state trial court judges in political conventions [NY Election Law s. 6-106, PDF] rather than through primaries for trial level judges resulted in only friends of political powers having their names placed on the ballots. The federal appeals court on Wednesday agreed that the means of electing the New York Supreme Court judges was merely a "ceremonial" process.

The case was brought in 2004 by a group of judicial candidates and a watchdog group who claimed the convention system in New York violated the First Amendment rights of both candidates and voters. Gleeson had originally stayed his ruling [JURIST report] in the case until after the 2006 elections, to which all parties agreed. AP has more.

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