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ALBANY – During his early days as governor, George E. Pataki sharply criticized the Court of Appeals, calling it a “citadel of technicality” and complaining of rulings that he said senselessly interpreted the state Constitution more expansively than the federal.

By the time he left office Sunday, the three-term governor had appointing a majority of the judges on the state’s top court and succeeded in changing the direction and focus of the tribunal, quite possibly for many years to come, practitioners, judges and academics agree. They say the Pataki Court is far more likely to vote for the prosecution over the defense and much less likely to adopt broad and sweeping criminal rulings.

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