Governor Andrew Cuomo this afternoon appointed Karen Peters (See Profile) presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department, making the longtime judge the first woman to run the mid-level panel in Albany.
Peters, 64, who was appointed to the Third Department in 1994 by the governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, was the first woman elected to Supreme Court. Before her 1992 election to that court, Peters had been an Ulster County Family Court judge, counsel to the Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and an assistant district attorney in Dutchess County.
“Throughout her career Justice Peters has displayed incredible judgment and integrity through her public service to New York State,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I have no doubt that she will continue to provide justice to New Yorkers with great distinction.”
The appointment of Peters, a Democrat, for the $172,800 position, was praised by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Representative Maurice Hinchey, D-Saugerties, in a press release issued by the governor’s office.
Peters, who will assume her new position immediately, said in a statement that she looks “forward to continuing to ensure New York State’s justice system protects all our residents so that everyone gets treated fairly, and is connected to the needs of our state’s communities.”
Acting Presiding Justice Thomas Mercure (See Profile), a Republican, and two Democrats, Justices Leslie E. Stein (See Profile) and John Egan Jr. (See Profile), also had applied to the post of presiding justice.
Mercure had served as acting presiding justice since early 2011, when Presiding Justice Anthony Cardona was diagnosed with cancer. Cardona died in December.
The Third Department remains one judge short since Cardona’s position has yet to be filled. But the Third Department is the least short-handed of the four appellate divisions, with only one vacancy on the 12-judge court.
The First Department is down three of its 20 judges. There are three vacancies in the 22-judge Second Department, which has been operating with an acting presiding justice, William F. Mastro (See Profile), since A. Gail Prudenti (See Profile) left to become chief administrative in December. But the Fourth Department in Rochester is the most strapped, with 25 percent of its judgeships, three of 12, vacant.
Fourth Department Presiding Justice Henry Scudder (See Profile) said that with the three vacancies and the absence of another judge recently for personal reasons, the court had to assign four-judge panels for some appeals.
“We would be very appreciative to get an appointment,” Scudder said.
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