WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday nominated Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore as New York's chief judge of the state Court of Appeals.
The announcement followed months of speculation that DiFiore was a leading candidate for the opening on the state's highest court.
DiFiore's appointment is subject to approval by the state Senate when it convenes its next session in January.
Cuomo faced a deadline to name a successor for Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
DiFiore has served as Westchester district attorney since 2006. The Democrat is a former Republican.
By law, Cuomo would name her replacement as county District Attorney if she is appointed judge.
DiFiore was among seven candidates for the opening. Only one other woman has served as chief judge: Judith Kaye.
In a press statement, Gov. Cuomo said: “Janet DiFiore is tremendously qualified to serve as chief judge of the state Court of Appeals,”
“She has served as both judge and prosecutor, and has spent her career working to ensure justice and fairness for New Yorkers,'' Cuomo added. "She has led crucial reform efforts to make our judicial system both more effective and more efficient, and I am confident that she would continue this leadership on the Court of Appeals.”
In a prepared statement, DiFiore said, "I am humbled by the incredible honor. . . .”
“My professional life has been devoted to the fair administration of justice, and I would gladly continue my service to the people of New York on our state’s highest court,” DiFiore said. “I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for this nomination.”
Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia said, “Janet DiFiore has always been a fair and prudent adjudicator of justice throughout her career and has been instrumental in making the residents of Westchester feel that they have safe communities to live in. During her tenure, she has handled several high profile cases and always demonstrated a professionalism that emanated through her entire office."
Borgia, an Ossining Democrat, added: "Westchester’s loss will be the gain of the entire state as she hopefully takes her public service to the Court of Appeals. I urge all of Westchester’s Senators to vote in favor of her confirmation when the Senate returns in January.”
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