October 20, 2014
With Governor Cuomo’s nomination of Third Department Justice Leslie Stein, the numbers on the judicial die to be cast by Cuomo become clearer. Indeed, there is much in play on the table. Judge Ciparick, appointed by Cuomo père, retired last year and was replaced by Judge Abdus-Salaam. The death of Judge Jones in that same year brought Judge Rivera to the Court. Having already appointed these two justices, Cuomo could have just as easily reappointed Judge Graffeo, who could have then served for 8 more years before mandatory retirement, but did not.
What’s up? Well, for the first thing, the Court now shifts to 4:3 Democratic (Judge Graffeo was Republican; appointee Stein is not.) If the message of Mario Cuomo is followed, however, that is meaningless. “You leave your politics at home. The Court of Appeals doesn’t have the same problems as the Supreme Court of the United States. I never heard anyone complain, ‘The fix was in.’” Recall that Mario nominated more judges to the Court of Appeals than any other governor in New York State history.
But Mario is not Andrew. Mario Cuomo had a certain closeness with the Court, having clerked for Judge Burke
For Andrew, on the other hand, the closest he got to the Court was attending Albany Law School (as did nominee Stein); the closest to litigation a year at the Manhattan DA’s office. Nonetheless, our good friend and Court expert, Prof. Vincent Bonventre, of Albany Law School, assured Capital last year that “both Cuomos understand the Court of Appeals’ power and influence, and the practical implications of the court’s working philosophy on criminal-justice and economic matters.” Now, however, he concedes that “nobody seems to have much of an idea about his [Andrew’s] intent in regards to the Court[.]”
Perhaps more important, is that to court-watchers, the Court honestly seems happier nowadays than in the past. Happy judges make happy lawyers. Who will the new nominee be in January when Judge Smith, another Republican, reaches mandatory retirement age? Your guess.
We love Rodriguez v. Woods, 2014 Slip Op 06887 (1st Dep’t 10/14/14). It deals with snowfall and icing and re-icing and slipping & falling and dirty ice