To Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman:

We, the undersigned, oppose the nomination of Madeline Singas to the New York Court of Appeals and ask you and the members of the New York State Senate to reject her nomination. Singas is a prosecutor with a shameful record, and she is a close political ally of Governor Cuomo. Her transparently political nomination—if confirmed, she would serve as a juror in potential impeachment proceedings—will jeopardize efforts to end mass incarceration and hold police accountable to the communities they serve. By nominating an old-school prosecutor on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, Governor Cuomo has betrayed every New Yorker who has suffered under our broken criminal justice institutions, as well as those who took to the streets to demand reform.
On May 25, 2021, Governor Cuomo issued a press release to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. He acknowledged the scope of the subsequent protests and the need to address the “inherent racism and pervasive discrimination” in our criminal justice system, and he promised to "use the energy sparked to make real, positive, and long-overdue progress." On the same day, however, Governor Cuomo also nominated a notoriously pro-police prosecutor, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, to a fourteen-year term on the highest court in New York. Singas has never been a judge and has no significant appellate legal experience. She is a politician who built her career supporting the very police and prosecutorial practices that immiserate marginalized communities across the state and the country and that gave rise to last year's protests.  

The nomination of Singas to the Court of Appeals reveals that Governor Cuomo has no real interest in reform. As an elected District Attorney, Singas possesses tremendous power within the criminal legal system, but she has never undertaken any meaningful effort to address mass incarceration or systemic injustice. To the contrary, Singas strongly opposed recent bail and discovery reform provisions, passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo—she even trained her subordinates to subvert the new law in order to keep people in jail. Her office has asked the Court of Appeals on several occasions to overturn court rulings protecting the rights of the accused. She consistently seeks harsh and punitive sentences, even for individuals convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. And recently, she declined to prosecute several police officers caught on video abusing their authority, finding issue only with the officers' language as they punched, kicked, and tased Nassau County resident Akbar Rogers.  

In short, Singas had numerous opportunities to advance justice, but invariably opted instead to take the side of mass incarceration and systemic injustice. The Court of Appeals has seven judges; if confirmed, Singas would be the third former prosecutor on the court, flying in the face of progressive demands for judiciaries that reflect the diversity of the legal profession—notably, there are currently no former public defenders on the Court of Appeals.   

Singas’s nomination imperils not just recent criminal justice reforms, but all of the fragile reforms New Yorkers have won in recent years. When it comes to housing rights, for example, Singas’s appointment to the bench would threaten the legacy of the landmark tenant rent reforms passed in 2019. These reforms were critical to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from abusive landlords and the predatory real estate industry. Singas’s record of criminalizing poverty and drug addiction suggests that she has little empathy for low-income New Yorkers, and if these housing reforms are challenged in the Court of Appeals, it’s likely she would side with landlords and real estate tycoons. 

Filling the vacancies on New York's highest court is one of Governor Cuomo's most meaningful opportunities to fulfill his racial justice promise. Instead of a progressive jurist, he chose to nominate a political ally and notoriously regressive prosecutor. The nomination of Madeline Singas betrays those who have suffered under New York’s unjust criminal legal system, as well as those who continue to languish in our jails and prisons. It undermines New York State’s commitment to fighting systemic racism and it ignores the countless New Yorkers who took to the streets to demand reform in the wake of George Floyd's murder. We ask that the Senate hold Governor Cuomo accountable for his broken promise, reject Singas, and demand that he select a nominee who will take the side of justice.

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Supporters

Alan Lewis
New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers/ Chair, Judicial Screening Committee
Alan Rosenberg
Brooklyn Defender Services
Alan Rosenthal
Law Office of Alan Rosenthal
Alexandra Dougherty
Brooklyn Defender Services
Alice Fontier
NYSACDL
Alice Markham-Cantor
WFP
Alison Stocking
Brooklyn Defender Services
Allen Roskoff
Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
Alyssa Aguilera
VOCAL-NY
Alyssa Briody
Brooklyn Defender Services
Ambika Panday
Brooklyn Defender Services
Andrew Bernstein
Partner, Sichenzia Ross Ference LLP
Andrew Dona-Couch
Kings County Democratic County Committee
Andrew Eibel
Legal Aid Society (Retired)
Andrew Lyubarsky
Brooklyn Defender Services
Angelica Juarbe Santaliz
Brooklyn Defender Services
Anjuli Branz
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Anna Nathanson
Harvard Law School JD’20
Arielle James
Brooklyn Defender Services
Atusa Mozaffari
UAW ALAA2325
Aurora Maoz
The Legal Aid Society
Barbara Walsh Walsh
Hudson Valley Strong Indivisible, Beacon Prison Rides/action, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Benjamin Gerson
Federal Defenders
Benjamin S Yost
Cornell University
Brad Mazarin
NYSACDL
Brandon J. Holmes
Freedom Agenda
Bret J. Taylor
UAW Region 9A New York Area CAP Council
Brian Holbrook
Brooklyn Defender Services
Bridget Kessler
Brooklyn Defender Services
Cassidy
Brooklyn Defender Services
Charlotte Forrester
NYPAN
Charlotte Forrester
Nassau DSA, LI-CPUSA
Christopher J Wegan
NYC-DSA
Clement Stormes
CUNY School of Law
Dan Kieselstein
Brooklyn Defender Services
Daniel Curbelo Zeidman
The Bronx Defenders
Daniel Hamburg
The Bronx Defenders
Daniel Shin
Queens County Democratic County Committee
Daniel Wachtell
Law Office of Daniel F. Wachtell
Danielle Brecker
Empire State Indivisible
Darius Wadia
Brooklyn Defender Services
David Hanyok
The Bronx Defenders
David Ressler
NYC-DSA
Devontae Torriente
People's Parity Project
Diana Rodin
Kings County Democratic County Committee
Dipona Bandy
Brooklyn Defender Services
Donald Frazier
Attorney at Law
Drew DuBrin
Monroe County Public Defender’s Office
Edward Franco
Legal Aid Society
Edward Mandery
Brooklyn Defender Services
Eliza Miedel
Brooklyn Defender Services
Elizabeth
PE
Elizabeth Fischer
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Elizabeth Forester
Brooklyn Defender Services
Elizabeth-Ann Tierney
UAW Local 2325 - Association of Legal Aid Attorneys
Elmer Flores
NY02 Indivisible
Elsie Chandler
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Emma Schindler
Brooklyn Defender Services
Finn Collom
CCI
Glenn R Bruno
Bruno Glenn Esq
Grainne E. O'Neill
NYSACDL
Greg Zak
Former Nassau County Legal Aid Society
Hannah Mccrea
Brooklyn Defender Services
Hannah Tom
DSA
Henry Prine
Brooklyn Defender Services
Hilarie Ashton
Court Watch NYC
Hilda Chacón
Nazareth College
Hilda Chacón
Nazareth College
Ian Zelos Spiridigliozzi
Legal Workers Rank & File
Jack Brewer
Legal Aid Society
James Litkett
Now We Rise
Jamie Burke
Brooklyn Defender Services
Jan Combopiano
Indivisible Brooklyn
Jennifer Kehoe
Ontario County Public Defender Office
Jennifer Kovacs
Legal aid society
Jennifer L. Van Ort
NYSACDL
Jeremiah Rygus
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Jerry Ader
Genesee County Public Defender
Jill Paperno
NYSACDL
Jo L Sotheran
LSF Services
Jodi R Smith
The Legal Aid Society
Joe Kral
Brooklyn Defender Services
Joe Scroppo
Forensic Psychology Consulting PLLC
Joel Salinger
NYSBA, SCBA, SCCBA, SCMBA, NYSACDL, NYSDA, Suffolk County Assigned Defenders Panel, Moose International, BSA,
Johari Frasier
NYC People's Parity Project
John Craver
KCDCC member, AD43, ED85
Jordan Teicher
NYC-DSA
Joseph DeMatteo
NYS Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
Joseph J Sackman
Long Island Activists / NYPAN
Juan Parcero
Brooklyn Defender Services
Juliana Wishne
Brooklyn Defender Services
Justine Brennan
Brooklyn Defender Services
Katherine Mechner
Brooklyn Defender Services
Kathleen Wiltsie
CCI
Kathryn Levy
Progressive East End Reformers (PEER), New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN)
Kay Gabriel
Racial Justice Working Group, NYC-DSA
Kelly Price
Close Rosies, Village Independent Democrats, Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association;
Kevin Dunshee
NYC DSA
Kevin Gunther
BROOKLYN Defender Services
Kim Kaiser
NYCDSA, AEA