Former prof gets nod for judgeship



President George W. Bush recently nominated Stephen C. Robinson, a former Yale Law School professor and interim manager of Empower New Haven, for a federal judgeship in the Southern District of New York.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York announced on Feb. 23 that he and the White House had agreed to nominate Robinson, a Democrat. The White House subsequently sent his nomination to the Senate on March 5. His appointment now awaits Senate approval, though no date has been set for hearings yet.

Robinson served as a U.S. attorney until May 2001, and then taught trial practice at Yale Law School. Yale law professor Robert Solomon said Robinson’s nomination stands a good chance of being confirmed by the Senate.

“He’s been nominated by a Republican president and has been cleared by the FBI,” Solomon said.

Schumer nominated Robinson at the same time as two other candidates — Kevin Castel, who may serve alongside Robinson on the Southern District of New York trial court, and Judge Richard Wesley, who was selected for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“These three nominees meet my criteria for federal judges. They are legally excellent, moderate, and diverse,” Schumer said in a Feb. 23 press release. “I am pleased that President Bush and I have been able to see eye-to-eye on these three nominations, and hope we will continue to work with one another to put the best and fairest judges on New York’s federal bench.”

Solomon also praised Robinson’s integrity and said his nomination came as no surprise given Robinson’s record as one of the most successful U.S. attorneys.

“Steve is an extraordinarily competent person with high integrity,” Solomon said.

Solomon, who served as interim executive director for the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven from 1999 to 2002, said Robinson has been praised for his work at Empower New Haven. The organization supervises New Haven’s designation as an empowerment zone, and attempts to promote economic growth in the city by working with families, businesses, and the government. Empower New Haven has access to over $100 million in federal grants and $130 million tax-exempt bonds over a period of 10 years, which began in 1999.

Solomon said Robinson’s job as interim manager of Empower New Haven was an “extremely tough position.” He said Robinson had started to institute a lot of positive changes for Empower New Haven and for the city.

As District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Robinson will have jurisdiction over the Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties.

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