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New York�Trial Judge Frank V. Ponterio has sued the state court system for $1 million in damages, claiming he was denied an additional two years on the bench because in 1997 he had resisted the efforts of an appellate judge to have him moved from a part where he heard only divorce cases. Ponterio was one of four judges denied certification for an additional two-year term in October by the state Administrative Board of the Courts, which consists of Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and the presiding justices of the four departments of the intermediate-level New York Appellate Division. In all, 50 justices of the Supreme Court, New York’s trial system, had applied for certification, a procedure that allows justices 70 years and older to serve additional two-year terms until they turn 76. Ponterio, who is 73, was approved for a two-year term in 2001, but this year when he sought his second of a possible three two-year extensions, the board turned him down. In addition to damages, Ponterio is asking for an order requiring that he be certified for a two-year term starting on Jan. 1, the date he is required to leave the bench. David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, declined to comment beyond stating that the administrative board made its decisions about certification “solely on merit and the need for judicial resources.” Ponterio’s legal claims, filed in Staten Island, N.Y., Supreme Court, are based on events that allegedly took place in 1998, about a year after he was elected to the Supreme Court after serving for 10 years as a Civil Court judge. His first Supreme Court assignment was to the matrimonial part. After serving a little more than a year in the part, according to the complaint, the court’s administrative judge, Justice Michael L. Pesce, on March 6, 1998, told him he was being reassigned by order of Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman. The complaint alleges “upon information and belief” that Lippman was removing him because Appellate Division Justice Betty Weinberg Ellerin, who was chairwoman of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, had accused him of bias against female litigants. Ponterio also claims that Ellerin wanted him replaced by a female judge. He said in an interview that in September 1998 he was replaced by Justice Patricia M. DiMango, who at the time was an acting Supreme Court justice. Ellerin, through her law secretary, declined to comment. Pesce did not return a call seeking comment.

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