NYSBA Panel to Examine Process and Precedent for Selecting Lieutenant Governor

By David Howard King

NYSBA Panel to Examine Process and Precedent for Selecting Lieutenant Governor

4.26.2022

By David Howard King

benjamin

The indictment and resignation of Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin is prompting the New York State Bar Association to bring together thought leaders to examine the legal implications of selecting a new lieutenant governor.

Replacing New York’s Lieutenant Governor: Revisiting Skelos v. Paterson is the topic of the discussion, which will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 28. Journalists are invited but should email Brandon Vogel at [email protected] to register.

Skelos v. Paterson was a 2009 case brought by Sen. Dean G. Skelos, a Republican, after Lt. Gov. David Paterson became governor. Paterson was elevated to the position after the resignation of Eliot Spitzer following a prostitution scandal. The issue in Skelos v. Paterson is whether the governor had the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor.

When the Senate deadlocked on appointing leaders for the chamber, Paterson appointed Richard Ravitch lieutenant governor. The Appellate Division, Second Department, ruled that the appointment was unlawful because neither the Constitution nor any law allowed for the selection of a lieutenant governor other than by election. New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, reversed the Appellate court.

State government is now in a similar position. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul became governor after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo. Hochul is now running for her first elected term as governor, but at this point, Benjamin’s name cannot be removed from the ballot — even at his own request. Hochul says she’s considering appointing a new lieutenant governor, but her selection could be challenged in court.

The panel discussion will feature Peter J. Kiernan, senior counsel, Venable, who was Gov. Paterson’s counsel in 2009; John Ciampoli, of counsel to Messina Perillo Hill, who was counsel to the Senate Republicans in 2009; Professor Michael Hutter, Albany Law School, who submitted an amicus brief opposed to the Ravitch appointment; and Professor Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School who wrote an amicus brief for Citizens Union of New York City in support of the Ravitch appointment.

The discussion will be hosted by veteran political reporter Liz Benjamin, managing director of the Albany office for Marathon Strategies.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated, and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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