Seven Nominees for Court of Appeals Announced

By Christian Nolan

Seven Nominees for Court of Appeals Announced

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Good evening Members,

The New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination released a report to the governor today with the names of seven nominees who in their judgment are well qualified to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Court of Appeals created by Associate Judge Leslie E. Stein’s retirement effective June 4, 2021.

For the first time in the commission’s history, all seven candidates are female. The commission’s seven nominees to the governor are:

  • Ellen Nachtigall Biben, administrative judge, Criminal Matters, First Judicial District, judge of the Court of Claims and acting Supreme Court justice
  • Kathy Hirata Chin, attorney in private practice at Crowell & Moring
  • Caitlin J. Halligan, attorney in private practice at Selendy & Gay
  • Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, associate justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
  • Erin M. Peradotto, associate justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Department
  • Madeline Singas, Nassau County district attorney
  • Shirley Troutman, associate justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

By law, the governor is required to make his appointment from the list no sooner than April 23, 2021 nor later than May 8, 2021. The state Senate – within 30 days after receipt of the governor’s choice – must confirm or reject the appointment.

The seven candidates for the Court of Appeals, according to the commission, are in their collective judgment “well qualified, by virtue of their character, temperament, professional aptitude, experience, qualifications and fitness for office.”

The commission’s report follows months of outreach efforts that were conducted through public announcements, individual solicitations of applications and a virtual informative meeting held remotely over Zoom by the commission. These efforts resulted in the receipt of 45 applications.

The applicant pool was diverse, according to a news release from the commission. Of the 45 candidates, 26 (or 57%) were female and 14 (or 31%) were of diverse backgrounds. The commission interviewed 17 candidates, of whom 13 (or 76%) were female and 5 (or 29%) were ethnic minorities.

“The extraordinary quality of our applicants is noteworthy,” said Judge E. Leo Milonas, chair of the commission. “The number of exceptional and diverse candidates reflects the unparalleled depth of the legal profession in New York.”

Despite the completion of the report to fill Judge Stein’s vacancy, the commission must provide another list of candidates to fill the vacancy left on the Court of Appeals by the recent resignation of the late Judge Paul G. Feinman. The commission must deliver that list to the governor no later than July 21, 2021.

The commission, in its news release, said they were “mindful of the extraordinary circumstances presented by Judge Feinman’s unexpected retirement and the need to swiftly fill the resulting vacancy on the Court of Appeals.”

The commission said it will “promptly discharge its constitutional and statutory responsibilities and nominate and recommend to the governor three to seven well-qualified candidates.”

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

Click here for the commission’s news release and report to the governor, which includes additional bio information of all seven candidates listed above.

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