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

Kristin Mcalpin
Former Nassau County Legal Aid Society
Kristin Pezzuti
UAW Local 2325 member
Laura Fiorenza
Onondaga Cty Bar Assn. Assigned Counsel Program
Leticia N Hernandez
Brooklyn Defender Services
Lili Giacoma
Brooklyn Defender Services
Lily Chapin
Business owner Nyack NY
Lindsay Long-Waldor
Brooklyn Defender Services
Lindsey Buller
Brooklyn Defender Services
Lisa Freedman
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Lucien Baskin
City university of New York
Luz Beato
The Bronx Defenders
Marc L Greenberg
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
Margaret Cardenas
NYLAG
Margaret Mccarthy
Brooklyn Defender Services
Margaret Taylor
Legal Aid Society
Marian
Brooklyn Defender Services
Marie Calvert-Kilbane
New York County Defender Services
Marissa Sherman
Brooklyn Defender Services
Mark
The Foti Law Firm
Mark M. Baker
The Baker Law Firm for Criminal Appeals PLLC
Melanie Case
SURJ
Melissa Accomando
Brooklyn Defender Services
Michael Litman
Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC
My Le
The Bronx Defenders
Nancy Little
The Legal Aid Society
Nicole Guerrero
Brooklyn Defender Services
Nora Offen
Brooklyn Defender Services
Nuni Montaigne
Brooklyn Defender Services
Olivia Forbes
Registered Nurse
Onyx Starrett
Former NCLAS and BDS attorney
Pauline Syrnik
Legal Aid Society
Peer Deutsch
Brooklyn Defender Services
Peter K Cavanaugh
MHV DSA
Peter Kennedy Diller
Brooklyn Defender Services
Pooja Patel
CAMBA Legal Services and ALAA 2325
Rachel Goodman
Brooklyn Defender Services
Randal Wilhite
New York Legal Assistance Group
Rebecca Saletan
Indivisible Harlem
Renee Hill
NYSACDL
Ri Marchessault
Court Watch NYC
Richard Blum
member, UAW Local 2325
Richard Scott
Indivisible Harlem, Working Families Party
Ricky Silver
Empire State Indivisible
Rob Katz
NYC-DSA
Robert Wells
NYSACDL
Rochelle Berliner
NYSACDL
Sabina Pringle
CUNY School of Law, City University of New York
Samuel Hamilton
Brooklyn Defender Services
Sara Maeder
Brooklyn Defender Services
Sara Molinaro
Brooklyn Defender Services
Sarah Burleson
Brooklyn Defender Services
Sarah Young
NY State Bar Association
Shelle Shimizu
Brooklyn Defender Services
Shoshana Finkel
Brooklyn Law School
Slap - Society Of Legal Aid Professionals Of Nassau County
ALAA Local 2325
Stephanie Pope
Public Defender
Stephany Betances
Brooklyn Defender Services
Steven Sternberg
NYSACDL
Susan Bryant
New York State Defenders Association, Inc.
Theodore Hastings
former Nassau County Legal Aid Society
Thomas Eddy
NYCBA, NACDL, NLG
Thomas L Bantle
Attorney, Retired
Tine Byrsted
Uptown Progressive Action
Tzvi Goldstein
NYSACDL
Xhoana Ahmeti
CUNY School of Law
Émilia Decaudin
Queens County Democratic District Leader
Aaron Mysliwiec
Aaron Ratoff
Aaron Thomas
Abby
Abby Shuster
Abigail Chapin
Abigail Finkelman
Abigail Swenstein
Adam Cole
Adam Fisher-Cox
Adam Marcus
Adam Schmelkin
Adi Sunar
Adriana Maestas
Ahrieff Edwards
Aida Leisenring
Aileen Reynolds
Aimee Canzoniero
Aisha Lewis-Mccoy
Alan Ross
Alana Krivo-Kaufman
Albert Smith
Alejandro Canelas
Aleksandra Ciric
Alessia Riccio
Alex
Alex Araya
Alex Berke
Alex Hare
Alex Perlin
Alexa Scarfo
Alexander Barnes
Alexander Kell
Alexander Mchugh