State Senate Confirms Court of Appeals Nominees

By Christian Nolan

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The New York State Senate has confirmed the governor’s nominations of Madeline Singas and Judge Anthony “Tony” Cannataro to the New York State Court of Appeals where they will serve 14-year terms.

Singas, the district attorney of Nassau County, fills the vacancy of Judge Leslie Stein who retired this month. Cannataro, the administrative judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York, fills the vacancy created by the recent retirement and passing of Judge Paul G. Feinman.

Cannataro becomes the second LGTBQ+ judge on the Court of Appeals. Feinman had been the first LGBTQ judge on the state Court of Appeals when he was confirmed four years ago.

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

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.

NYC Arraignments

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, during her weekly coronavirus update June 7, announced that in-person arraignments would resume in the New York City Criminal Court beginning with day arraignments in the Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, June 28, followed by Kings County on July 6, and Bronx, Queens and Richmond counties on July 12. Resumption of in-person night and weekend arraignments will follow one week later in each county.

“While conducting arraignments virtually was an absolute necessity during the pandemic, it was never intended to be anything but a temporary solution,” said DiFiore. “And now that the COVID metrics have greatly improved… the time is right to restore face-to-face interaction in these important proceedings where charged individuals have the critical opportunity to interact with their lawyers for the first time, and where the court first exercises its jurisdiction and authority over the defendant, issuing decisions on bail affecting liberty interests, as well as orders of protection and other directions governing an individual’s release.”

DiFiore said the court system would still require the use of face masks and physical distancing by everyone in the courtroom, and any defendants who are ill, or exposed to COVID-19, will continue to be arraigned virtually.

She noted that over the last 15 months, the state court system has conducted almost 100,000 virtual arraignments in the New York City Criminal Court, and over 200,000 statewide.

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