ALBANY – Three current appellate judges, two private practioners, a law school professor and the director of a nonprofit organization that advocates for immigrants and low-income New Yorkers have been named to the list of candidates from which Governor Andrew Cuomo will name a successor to Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who is retiring at the end of the year.
Included in the list sent to the governor on Dec. 1 by the Commission on Judicial Nomination were:
• Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 60 of Manhattan, associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department;
• Rolando Acosta, 57, of Manhattan associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department;
• Eugene M. Fahey, 61, of Buffalo, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department;
• Kathy Chin, an attorney with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft;
• Jenny Rivera, 48, of Suffolk County, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law;
• Margarita Rosa, of Brooklyn, executive director of the Grand Street Settlement; and
• David A. Schulz, 60, of Manhattan, an attorney with Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.
Schulz is the only candidate who has appeared on a previous list of Court of Appeals selections from the commission. He was among the seven named by the commission in 2007, when then-chief judge Judith Kaye’s term expired and her seat became open.
Kaye herself was reappointed to the court by Governor David Paterson, though she was forced to step down at the end of 2008 because of the state’s mandatory retirement rules.
Kaye, who is now chairwoman of the judicial nomination commission, noted in a statement that it was the first time she has seen the nominating process “from the other side of the table.”
“I am so gratified at the level of public interest that this vacancy attracted, the number of applications we received, and the extraordinary quality and diverse backgrounds of our applicants,” said Kaye, who is now of counsel with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Manhattan. “That so many wonderfully qualified candidates were motivated to apply demonstrates the remarkable strength and depth of the legal profession in the state of New York.”
The commission said that it had received 75 applications, which is significantly higher than the number for other recent vacancies.
Of the applicants, 35 (47 percent) were women and 24 (32 percent) were members of ethnic minority groups.
The commission interviewed 36 candidates, of whom 17 were women (47 percent) and 18 were minorities (50 percent).
The commission said it has placed a new emphasis on enhancing diversity on the count since 2008, when its list of seven nominees to Paterson for the chief judgeship contained the names of no women and only one minority (NYLJ, July 27, 2009).
The list sent to Cuomo includes four women. There are three Hispanics, one black and one Asian-American.
Ciparick is the only Hispanic on the court.
All of the current crop of candidates except for Fahey, whose court is based in Rochester, work in New York City.
It will be Cuomo’s first selection to the court for which which his father, ex-governor Mario Cuomo, once clerked.
The governor, who took office in January 2011, now has between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15 to submit the name of one of the nominees to the state Senate for confirmation. He must choose from the list.
The Senate has 30 days after receiving the nomination to confirm or reject his choice.
The commission is currently at work on a second list, to be sent to Cuomo on March 7, with candidates to succeed Judge Theodore Jones Jr. Jones died last month (NYLJ, Nov. 7). The commission has set Dec. 18 for the deadline to receive applications for the next opening on the seven-member court.
The commission said it would automatically roll applications for the Ciparick opening into the pool of candidates it will consider for the Jones seat as well as conducting outreach to encourage new applicants.
In addition to Kaye, other members of the commission are John Cirando, Steven M. Cohen, Ruth Friendly, Milton Hoffman, Gerald Lefcourt, Simone Levinson, Alan Mansfield, E. Leo Milonas, Margaret Morton, David Schwartz and Dierdre Scozzafava.
Ciparick, 70, was nominated to the Court of Appeals by Mario Cuomo in December 1993. That fulfilled a promise that Cuomo had made to appoint a Hispanic to the Court of Appeals as governor. To date, she is the only Hispanic to serve on the court.
Ciparick was reappointed to the court in late 2007 by Paterson at the conclusion of her first 14-year term.
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