Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Manhattan Judicial Vacancies (4/09 ed.)

This year, there is only one "county-wide" vacancy for State Supreme Court Justice as John Stackhouse retires, reaching the constitutional age limit. Justice Stackhouse intends to retire early, in April or shortly thereafter. This could give the Governor the opportunity to name a vacancy replacement (presumably County Leader Farrell's choice), and if confirmed by the State Senate before June 1st, the designee would qualify as an incumbent under our Party's rules.

In the Civil Court, Cynthia Kern (3rd Dist.), Analisa Torres (6th Dist.), and Walter Tolub (9th Dist.) are up for re-election. Tolub, who is leaving the bench and will not run again, is a long-time Liberal Party member who changed his enrollment to Democrat in 2004.

Currently there are three "open" N.Y.C. Civil Court seats. Two are in the 9th Dist. (from 14th to 96th Streets, 7th Ave. to Lexington Ave.), which is considered the Lexington Democratic Club's bailiwick: Judith Gische's seat (she was elected to the State Supreme Court trial bench) and Walter Tolub's seat. And there is one vacancy in the 3rd Dist. (from 14th to 65th Streets, 7th Ave. to the Hudson River), as Marilyn Shafer reaches the constitutional age limit.

Surrogate-elect Nora Anderson is suspended, with pay, from the N.Y. County Surrogate position until the pending campaign finance charges (brought by the D.A.) are resolved. The order suspending Anderson, issued by the Court of Appeals on December 29, 2008, became effective January 1st of this year. Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau appointed Supreme Court Justice Troy Webber, now sitting in Bronx Criminal Term (all her judicial experience has been in criminal court), to fill the job temporarily. Webber has assured Pfau that if Anderson were eventually removed, she (Webber) will not run for the post. If, however, Anderson is acquitted, that is another story. Webber was elected to New York County Supreme Court in 2002, and many had said that her only support was Denny Farrell.

In another development, the Governor appointed Jonathan Lippman, Judith Kaye's protégé, to be the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, replacing Kaye, who retired, and Luis Gonzalez, a First Dept. Appellate Division judge, to be that department’s Presiding Justice. The two Associate Justice vacancies in the Appellate Division's First Dept. (created by the retirement of Milton Williams and by the elevation of Gonzalez to P.J.) were filled by the appointment of Manhattan Supreme Court Justices Ros Richter and Sheila Abdus-Salaam.


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