Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi (See Profile) of Albany said Wednesday that he will retire on June 26 after nearly 21 years on the bench.
Teresi’s exodus, coupled with the elevation of two of his colleagues to the Appellate Division, Third Department and the promotion of a third to an administrative post will leave Albany County without a full-time Supreme Court justice. Five Court of Claims judges are serving as acting Supreme Court justices in Albany.
Teresi, 67, said he decided to step down midyear after doing “an evaluation of all my priorities” and “deciding to leave on my own terms.” A former Albany County public defender, Teresi practiced with Ainsworth, Sullivan, Tracy, Knauf, Warner and Ruslander before being elected to the Supreme Court bench in 1993. He was reelected in 2007.
Teresi’s most prominent case was likely the 2000 trial of four New York Police Department officers who were involved in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was mistaken for a rape suspect. The case was transferred to Albany by the Appellate Division, First Department, because of prejudicial pretrial publicity.
Teresi ran a typically tight courtroom, garnering praise from several observers. Yet the controversial acquittals resulted in outrage in the New York City minority community.
The judge also had run-ins with the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which twice publicly rebuked him, once for abuse of power and the once for behavior on the bench that was “injudicious, impatient and discourteous.”
By leaving in June, Teresi gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, an opportunity to appoint a replacement until the election. But it will also leave Albany County without a resident, full-time elected Supreme Court justice.