Hon. Shirley Troutman ’85 has been nominated to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state.
“Justice Troutman has a brilliant legal mind, a fair-minded judicial philosophy, sterling qualifications, and a commitment to equal justice that guides her approach from the bench,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Nov. 24 said in a statement about the nomination. “I am confident she will serve with distinction on the New York State Court of Appeals.”
If confirmed by the state Senate, she will be the second Black woman to serve on New York’s highest court.
Judge Troutman has served since 2016 on the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court’s Fourth Judicial Department, which is based in Rochester. She has been a judge for almost three decades, previously serving on the state Supreme Court, Erie County Court and Buffalo City Court.
Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, said not only is Troutman qualified for the job, “but she also has the lived experience to ensure she treats all who come before her with compassion, dignity and respect.”
When it comes to Troutman's record on the bench, Albany Law School's Justice Robert H. Jackson Distinguished Professor of Law Vincent Bonventre points out:
“In People v. Stackhouse, 2021, she wrote the court’s opinion reversing convictions for felony murder and attempted robbery both for being insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and for ineffective assistance of counsel—reasons that appellate courts are typically very reluctant to accept.”
“In People v. Z.H., 2020, her opinion for the court, involving a teenager charged with assault for fighting in high school, reversed the discretionary decision of the trial judge—who allowed the student to be criminally prosecuted as an adult—and held that the student should have been treated as a youthful offender," Bonventre said. He is the author of New York Court Watcher, a blog devoted to commentary on developments at the Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, and other state supreme courts nationwide.
"Other opinions by Justice Troutman suggest the same strong concern for taking due process seriously in criminal cases,” Bonventre said.
Troutman graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1982 with a degree in business administration before attending Albany Law.