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Brooklyn Law School professors protest LaSalle’s nomination for chief judge

January 17, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Three professors from Brooklyn Law School wrote an op-ed in the New York Amsterdam News on Tuesday that opposed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Hon. Hector LaSalle to become the State’s next chief judge of the courts.

Professors Alexis Hoag-Fordjour, Kate Mogulescu and Jocelyn Simonson, who are also co-directors of the school’s Center for Criminal Justice, said that LaSalle’s track record shows a “clear disregard for constitutional rights, legal ethics, and transparency in the criminal legal system.”

The trio cite LaSalle’s record on tenant’s rights, worker’s rights, and reproductive rights as problematic, and they explained that LaSalle is the exact type of jurist they warn their students against becoming.

“We are specifically troubled by Judge LaSalle’s lack of sound leadership when it comes to accountability for prosecutors,” Hoag-Fordjour, Mogulescu and Simonson wrote. “LaSalle is the presiding justice of the New York Supreme Court’s Second Judicial Department. As such, he was a named defendant in a recent federal lawsuit regarding the need for transparency over prosecutor misconduct.

“In their lawsuit, the professors alleged that, ‘[p]rosecutorial misconduct can have devastating consequences; it can cause the imprisonment of innocent people,’’ the BLS professors said. “The complaint cited a 2020 study showing that prosecutorial misconduct occurred in 30% of more than 2,000 exonerations. Yet, in Judge LaSalle’s reply to the court, he responded to this specific statement by ‘deny[ing] knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.’ It is striking that LaSalle, who has over 13 years of judicial experience and over 10 years of prosecutorial experience, used boilerplate language to deny awareness that prosecutorial misconduct can lead to a faulty legal process and the incarceration of innocent people.”

The law professors went on to cite cases People v. Corbin, which they said demonstrated a lack of concern for the rights of people charged with a crime, and People v. Bridgeforth, which they said demonstrated a lack of concern against racial discrimination against potential jurors, as especially problematic decision’s written by LaSalle.

“It is imperative that judges on our state’s highest court display integrity and respect for the minimal rights and ethical rules that offer some protection against unchecked power and devastating harm,” Hoag-Fordjour, Mogulescu and Simonson wrote. “There are other candidates who display these qualities, such as Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, Professor Abbe Gluck or Corey Stoughton, each of whom would also bring a diversity of experience to the court. New Yorkers need a judge who will promote transparency and fairness, and strive for an ethical practice of law. LaSalle is not that person; he is unfit to lead our state court system.”

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