Federal Judge is Impeding Latino Judge From Filling His Seat

Federal Judge is Impeding Latino Judge From Filling His Seat BELatina latine

A group of renowned Latino leaders is outraged after learning U.S. District Judge David Hurd rescinded his senior status a day after Jorge Alberto Rodriguez was nominated. Due to this, Rodriguez won’t be able to fill the seat in the Northern District of New York.

This group is well-known for its advocacy, of civil, and legal rights in the Latino community and has experience in fighting against a system that has not always been fair to Latinos and other historically excluded communities. We are talking about Voto Latino, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Mi Familia Vota, LULAC, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Latinos for a Fair Judiciary.  Their voices have rung through our community for years and, collectively, they’ve now authored a letter urging Hurd to reconsider his latest decision.

Refusal or Odd Timing From Hurd?

In November of 2021, Hurd notified the White House he wanted to make way for a new generation of jurists when he justified why he wanted to take senior status. By taking senior status, Hurd would be able to retain his entire salary,  hire clerks, and continue to benefit from his previous role.  

Though it is not clear why Hurd decided to backtrack his previous decision, it’s interesting how he coincidentally changed his mind a day after the nomination. But how often is a coincidence just that?

He also mentioned he wanted his successor to be based in Utica. Still, Rodriguez was committing to serving in Utica even if it wasn’t his obligation. 

It is important to note that Hurd requested personal accommodation to stay in Utica despite being appointed a seat in Albany in 1999. 

Sadly, he is now standing in the way of someone else’s rightfully-earned appointment. 

Rodriguez would’ve been the first Latino to ever serve on the N.D.N.Y. bench.

New York Needs More Diversity 

Recent Census data states that New York’s Latino population continues to grow. In the past decade, it’s gone from 3.4 million people to 3.9 million. As we’ve said before, representation matters – and Hurd not giving way to Rodriguez dampens those efforts. 

In the letter, the authors added an explanation from Justice Elena Kagan that said the public confidence in the judiciary as a whole is strengthened when the public looks at an institution and see people who are like them, who share their experiences, and who they imagine sharing their set of values

Rodriguez will also be able to relate to the refugee and immigrant population of New York. He emigrated to the United States from Colombia when he was ten years old. 

They signed off the letter by asking Hurd to reassess everything that’s at stake by him rescinding his senior status.

“We hope that you will reconsider your decision to maintain your full caseload and thwart Mr. Rodriguez’s appointment — if not for the sake of N.D.N.Y. and the people you serve, then at least for the benefit of your own reputation and integrity.”

The letter was sent by Voto Latino president Maria Teresa Kumar; LatinoJustice PRLDEF president and general counsel Lourdes Rosado; Mi Familia Vota CEO Héctor Sánchez Barba; League of United Latin American Citizens national director of policy and legislation Art Motta; Latinos for a Fair Judiciary director Andrea Nill Sanchez; and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund president and general counsel Thomas Saenz.

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