Governor Nominates Two Judges for Court of Appeals

By Christian Nolan

Governor Nominates Two Judges for Court of Appeals

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Good evening Members,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the nominations of Madeline Singas and Judge Anthony “Tony” Cannataro to the New York State Court of Appeals.

Singas, the district attorney of Nassau County, would fill the vacancy of Judge Leslie Stein who is retiring in June. Cannataro, the administrative judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York, would fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement and passing of Judge Paul G. Feinman.

The nominations are pending New York State Senate confirmation.

The New York State Bar Association had rated both nominees as “qualified” to serve on the state’s highest court.

NYSBA President Scott M. Karson today applauded the governor’s nominations.

“District Attorney Singas brings to the Court of Appeals valuable experience as a respected prosecutor with a demonstrated commitment to public service and improving the lives of children and families,” said Karson, who noted that Singas served on NYSBA’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and Committee on Re-Entry.

“Judge Cannataro brings to the court significant and rich experience as a respected judge and former clerk to the Court of Appeals,” Karson said. “His historic nomination as the second LGTBQ+ judge on the Court of Appeals underscores the principle that all New Yorkers are equal under the law and improves public confidence in the law.”

Singas was first elected as district attorney in Nassau County in November 2015. She was previously the chief assistant district attorney of Nassau County and head of its first Special Victims Bureau in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. She also was an assistant district attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office from 1991 to 2006, holding multiple roles concurrently during that time. Singas obtained a J.D. from Fordham Law School and a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College at Columbia University. She is a native of Astoria, Queens, and is the daughter of Greek immigrants.

Cannataro was appointed in 2018 as administrative judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York. Concurrently, he was elected as New York State Supreme Court Justice in 2017 to serve in the Civil Term in New York County, for a term ending in 2031. Prior to that, he has served in various roles on the bench since 2012. Cannataro was previously the principal law clerk to the Hon. Lottie E. Wilkins of the New York State Supreme Court from 2003 to 2011 and principal law clerk to the Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick in the New York State Court of Appeals from 2000 to 2003. Cannataro was an assistant corporation counsel and senior counsel in the Manhattan Trial Unit of the Office of the Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department from 1996 to 2000. He earned a J.D. from New York Law School and a B.A. in the Classics from Columbia University.

The next scheduled vacancy on the Court of Appeals will occur on Jan. 1, 2022, as Associate Judge Eugene M. Fahey reaches the mandatory retirement age.

Appellate Division Appointments

Cuomo today also announced the first round of appointments to fill vacancies in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, in the First and Second departments of New York State.

The governor appointed Supreme Court Justices Julio Rodriguez, Bahaati Pitt and John Higgitt to fill vacancies on the Appellate Division, First Department. The First Department covers Manhattan and the Bronx.

Rodriguez is a judge of the New York State Supreme Court in the Twelfth Judicial District where he ran for election in 2018. Pitt is a judge for the Criminal Court of the City of New York in Bronx County. Higgitt is an acting justice of the Bronx County Supreme Court, Civil Term in the Twelfth Judicial District of New York.

The governor appointed Supreme Court Justice Hector D. LaSalle as presiding justice and Justices William Grandison Ford, Joseph A. Zayas, Deborah A. Dowling and Lara Genovesi to fill vacancies on the Appellate Division, Second Department. The Second Department comprises a 10-county downstate region that includes Kings, Queens, and Richmond counties, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley.

LaSalle is an associate justice of the Appellate Division in the New York State Supreme Court for the Second Department, a position he was appointed to by Cuomo in 2014. Ford is a justice on the New York State Supreme Court in the Civil Term, a position he was elected to in 2016.

Zayas was appointed to serve as the administrative judge for the Criminal Term of the Supreme Court in Queens in 2013. Concurrently, Zayas was elected a justice of the Supreme Court in Queens in 2017 for a term lasting until 2030.

Dowling serves as a justice of the Kings County Supreme Court in the Criminal Term for the Second Judicial District, a position she was first elected to in 1996 and was re-elected in 2010. Genovesi is a judge of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial District, and has presided over the matrimonial part. She was elected to the bench in 2014.

Last month, Karson sent a letter on behalf of NYSBA to Cuomo urging him to fill the vacancies in the Appellate Division.

The Governor’s Office, in a news release today, said it will continue to review candidates that successfully advance through the screening process to fill vacancies in the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court.

Under the New York State Constitution and Judiciary Law, the governor has the authority to appoint justices to each Appellate Division from among those who have been elected as justices of the Supreme Court. These appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Court of Claims

The following individuals were nominated by Cuomo to the New York State Court of Claims pending Senate confirmation:

  • Linda Kelly Mejias
  • Ramon E. Rivera
  • Alicia Gerez
  • Gary Francis Miret
  • Rhonda Ziomaida Tomlinson
  • Damaris E. Torrent
  • Debra L. Givens
  • Phillippe Solages.

Upcoming CLE Webinars

Wednesday, May 26 – Ethics Update: Recent Case Review and Frequent Issues in Attorney Discipline.

Wednesday, May 26 – The New 2021 NY Power of Attorney: Review of the NYSBA Model POA Form.

Thursday, May 27 – Handling Your First Pro Bono Asylum Case.

Wednesday, June 2 – New York Adult Use Marijuana: What You Need To Know.

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