The senior Republican on the state Senate Judiciary Committee tore up Gov. Kathy Hochul’s election for New York’s chief justice on Sunday, after The Post revealed the veteran lawyer vacated a rape conviction last month.
State Senator Anthony Palumbo said Assistant State Circuit Court Judge Rowan Wilson’s decision raises serious questions about his eligibility for the bank and warrants a review by New York lawmakers, who are scheduled to hold a hearing to confirm the nominee on Monday.
“I’m very concerned,” Palumbo (R-Brookhaven) told The Post on Sunday. “He seems completely ignorant of victims’ rights. It is frightening. It raises questions about his ability to obey the law.”
Palumbo said he now expects many GOP lawmakers to vote against Wilson’s appointment as chief justice of New York’s Supreme Court.
The Post reported Saturday that Wilson authored the majority opinion in a 4-2 state appeals court decision that freed Andrew Regan from prison and overturned his conviction for raping a 22-year-old woman in 2009 — leaving her shaken.
“It’s devastating,” said the now 37-year-old victim, who is not being identified by the Post because she still fears for her safety. “I would ask [Wilson] if he made the same decision if his daughter was the victim, because I bet he wouldn’t.”
The woman said she went drinking with her boyfriend and another couple after a wedding reception on Aug. 9, 2009, and invited them to stay at her home in upstate New York so they wouldn’t have to drive. She said she fell asleep and woke up when Regan raped her.
Regan, 42, a former Army sergeant, denied the allegations and the case lasted until November 2012, when prosecutors said they finally obtained his DNA and filed rape charges.
A jury convicted Regan of first-degree rape on February 23, 2015, and a judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison, where he served until this year.
On March 16, Wilson and the six-member Court of Appeals panel voted to release Regan, citing “unexplained delays” that the judges said violated his right to a speedy trial.
The decision stunned Albany insiders and raised questions about Wilson’s nomination.
“Where are the progressives?” a source joked. “I haven’t heard a peep from them yet.”
State Senate Democrats in February rejected the nomination of Hochul’s former pick for chief justice, Hector LaSalle, after progressives and organized labor groups opposed his nomination, claiming he was too right-wing to head the seven-member court .
However, Wilson has his defense attorneys.
“The Constitution enforced the outcome,” said Lenore Kramer, former president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, of Wilson’s vote to have Regan released. “He did what the constitution required.
“The constitution ensures that everyone has the right to a speedy trial,” said Kramer, who now chairs the Women’s Trials Advocate’s Committee. “In this case, the Constitution prevailed despite the difficult facts and circumstances.”
Hochul’s office declined to comment on Wilson’s rape decision, referring The Post to comments the governor made Friday about his selection.
“Right now my focus is on dealing with what’s right ahead of me, which is making sure we get a chief referee and fill that position as soon as possible because it’s been so many months and a year without success have the full court in place,” Hochul said.