Biden chooses federal judgeship in New York in limbo

No Utica. No judge.

Longtime U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd, whose anticipated rise to “senior status” has created a vacancy on the bench for the Northern District of New York, no longer wants to be senior judge – well, not if his successor won’t be based in Utica, that is.

In a July 14 letter to President Joe Biden obtained by Law Beat, Hurd, 85, was firm that his successor should preside over business in Utica, the Mohawk Valley town about 95 miles east. west of Albany on Interstate 90.

If the judging position is not based in Utica, Hurd does not want to achieve senior status, which allows federal judges (age 65 or older with 15 years on the bench or any other combination of 80) to have reduced workload. Even if they continue to work and, in some cases, maintain full caseloads, the lead judge still needs to be replaced by a successor.

On July 13, The Times Union reported that Biden had named Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, 43, of Clifton Park, an assistant attorney general based in Albany since 2014 who has worked in the Office of Litigation, to succeed Hurd, pending confirmation from the Senate.

If confirmed, Rodriguez would be based in Albany, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

“Please note that I am immediately rescinding my decision to serve as United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York,” Hurd told Biden, adding that his successor has not been confirmed. “I will assume senior status if a confirmed successor lives in this area and is permanently assigned to the United States Courthouse in Utica, New York. Otherwise, I will remain active full-time until I retire or retire. dead.

On November 1 last year, Hurd informed Biden that he intended to assume senior status upon Senate confirmation of his successor.

“I look forward to providing substantial judicial service as senior judge,” Hurd wrote at the time.

Hurd’s letters were distributed to, among others, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; Chief Justice Debra Ann Livingston of the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, based in Manhattan; Northern District Chief Judge Glenn Suddaby and U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.

Rodgriguez’s appointment went through Gillibrand’s office; the senator recommended the nominee to Biden for nomination. Senators usually alternate between their recommendations. In April, based on Schumer’s recommendation, Biden appointed Colony attorney Anne M. Nardacci, a commercial attorney and partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, to the U.S. District Court to fill the vacancy created when Judge US District Gary Sharpe assumed senior status. She recently appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Hurd, though based in the Mohawk Valley, presided over major cases in the Capital Region, including a high-profile Schenectady police corruption case in late 2001 and early 2002, which resulted in multiple convictions; and the trial of former Albany investment brokers Timothy M. McGinn and David L. Smith, who were found guilty in a 2013 trial of defrauding dozens of investors and embezzling about $4.1 million. dollars from investment trusts for their own benefit in a Ponzi scheme.

Last fall, Hurd granted a preliminary injunction to 17 medical workers who argued they should be exempt from mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for religious reasons. A federal appeals court overturned it.

Hurd, a 1959 graduate of Cornell University and a 1963 product of Syracuse University School of Law, was a partner in a law firm in the Oneida County town of Rome when he was appointed as a judge of federal magistrate in November 1990. In 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated Hurd for the United States District Court in 1999. At the time, Hurd filled a vacancy for a judgeship – in Albany – which did not had not been filled since 1992, when the late District Judge Con. G. Cholakis retired due to illness.

Ironically, Hurd was expected to have most of his business in Albany, but he remained in Utica where he had worked in private practice and briefly as a prosecutor.

The White House and Gillibrand’s office did not immediately return requests for comment. Rodriguez was unreachable for comment.

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