Christine Clark, Eugene Devine and Michael Lynch, top, who were appointed to the Appellate Division, Third Department; Betsy Barros, who was named to the Second Department; and Brian DeJoseph, who will join the Fourth Department. ()
ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday filled three of the five vacancies on the depleted Appellate Division, Third Department, but left the court short two judges and without any minority representation. He also named one judge each to the Second and Fourth Departments.
The governor announced the appointments of Supreme Court justices Christine Clark of Schenectady, Eugene Devine of Albany and Michael Lynch of Albany to the Third Department; Betsy Barros of Brooklyn to the Second Department; and Brian DeJoseph of Syracuse to the Fourth Department.
While all four departments are shorthanded, the Third Department, with a 40 percent vacancy rate and positions that had gone unfilled for nearly 2 1/2 years, was in the most dire straits. Presiding Justice Karen Peters has been forced to adjudicate appeals with four-judge panels, cut sessions and prioritize cases, leading to considerable grumbling from attorneys.
It is unclear why Cuomo has left positions vacant, especially since Appellate Division appointments do not require Senate confirmation and he can choose only among elected Supreme Court justices.
Some observers have speculated that Cuomo, mindful that there has never been a black or Hispanic Supreme Court justice in the sprawling 28-county Third Department, was looking outside the district to bring some measure of diversity to a court which decides a high percentage of appeals involving state government. But Tuesday’s appointments come from within the district, and the Third remains the only all-white department in the state.
With the five latest appointments and four in January (NYLJ, Jan. 21), all but six of the 66 Appellate Division positions are now filled. Two positions each remain vacant in the First and Third departments and one each in the Second and Fourth departments.
All of the judges appointed Tuesday are, like the governor, Democrats. And the three Third Department appointees are, like the governor, graduates of Albany Law School. The judges bring both prosecutorial and private practice experience to the bench.
In a statement, Cuomo cited the “exemplary record of service” and “impressive career history” of the appointees.
Barros, the Second Department designee, was the first Latina ever to serve in Brooklyn Supreme Court after she was elected in 1997. A Cornell University and New York University Law School graduate, she began her legal career as a criminal defense lawyer with the Brooklyn Legal Aid Society in 1982.
From 1988 to 1990, Barros was a special assistant attorney general with the Office of the Special State Prosecutor. Barros spent the next five years with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, first as chief of the civil rights bureau and later as chief of the gray zone trial bureau. Her judicial career began in 1996 when she was elected to New York City Civil Court. She won election to Supreme Court the following year and was reelected in 2011.
Clark, who joins the Third Department, has been on the Supreme Court bench for less than two years. But she has been a judge since 2005, first as a Schenectady City Court judge and then as a Family Court judge.
A graduate of Columbia University, where she received a degree in history and political science, Clark began working as a law clerk with Dreyer Boyajian while attending Albany Law School and became an associate after graduating in 1996. She served six years as an assistant district attorney in Schenectady, mainly with the sex crimes/child abuse unit and eventually became chief of the special victims bureau.
Devine, a former Albany County public defender, was elected to Supreme Court in 2006. He was previously chief counsel for the Albany County Department of Social Services and spent many years in private practice with: Girvin & Ferlazzo; Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird; Devine, Piedmont & Rutnik; and Cooper, Erving & Savage. Devine has a degree in political science and philosophy from Villanova University. He graduated from Albany Law School in 1975.
Lynch was elected to the Supreme Court in 2005. He is a former Albany County assistant district attorney, county attorney, counsel to two county agencies and clerk to Third Department Justice Leonard Weiss. Lynch was also a partner for 16 years with the firm of Lynch & Lynch. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Union College before enrolling in Albany Law School, graduating in 1979.
DeJoseph, the Fourth Department appointee, began his judicial career in 1981 when he was elected to Syracuse City Court, a position he held until his election to Supreme Court in 2000.
Previously, DeJoseph was an associate with Law Office of John E. Shaffer. From 1979 to 1981, he was a partner in Brandt & DeJoseph. DeJoseph holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University. He received his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in 1975.