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Due process debate emerges following rejected Hector LaSalle nomination

Hector Lasalle takes questions from the NY Senate Judiciary Committee (Tom Eschen){p}{/p}
Hector Lasalle takes questions from the NY Senate Judiciary Committee (Tom Eschen)

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Following Wednesday's historic lost nomination of Hector LaSalle, lawmakers and public policy advocates are debating if the hearing was fair, and if due process was indeed achieved.

The debate was ignited as Governor Hochul immediately released a statement, saying the State Constitution requires the full Senate taking action.

"While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined. Several Senators stated how they were going to vote before the hearing even began," Governor Hochul said.

Following the hearing, Senate Majority Leader (D) Andrea Stewart-Cousins addressed Hochul's claim the Senators had their minds made up before taking five hours to question LaSalle.

"Before anything goes on to the floor or anything goes in front of a committee that's of importance such as this, there's always information prepared so the members will have the information they need to make the decision, those are the conversation that we have," Stewart-Cousins said. "I think the questions were thorough. I think the opportunity was given to have the Judge explain his philosophy, and essentially, I think that he had the hearing that we said we would always provide."

Governor Hochul's words also differed from Democratic judiciary committee chair Brad Hoylman-Sigal, who voted against LaSalle, but said the process was fair.

"I think it was clear this Senate performed its Constitutional responsibilities today to provide the advice to the Governor in terms of this nomination," Hoylman-Sigal said. "We had a full and fair hearing which is what the Leader promised at the beginning of this process, which is what the nominee himself acknowledged at the end."

In his closing statement, LaSalle said: "I want to thank you for being such hospitable hosts as I'm here in your house today. I want to thank you for this being an elegant proceeding where we where able to to discuss issues I think fairly with one another. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity."

Moments after LaSalle made that statement, the committee voted against his advancement to the Senate floor 10-9. Capital Region Senator (R) Jim Tedisco, who isn't on the Judiciary Committee, sat in on some of the proceedings, and now says he's frustrated the full Senate won't get an opportunity to vote on LaSalle's fate.

"Why would you use taxpayer dollars and spend taxpayers dollars to bring this individual forth to grill him, to embarrass him, knowing that you're not going to ratify him to the floor for a full vote and evaluation?" Tedisco says. "I wanted to see him on the floor so all 63 of us could ask questions of concern and see what his answers are and make a determination by our body."

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