By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y.(Reuters) - The New York State Commission on
Judicial Nomination has nominated seven people, including four
Appellate Division justices, to fill the Court of Appeals seat
vacated by the death of Judge Theodore Jones.
The nominees, announced Thursday, are Appellate Division,
First Department Justices Sheila Abdus-Salaam and Dianne
Renwick; Second Department Justice John Levanthal; Fourth
Department Justice Eugene Fahey; David Schulz of Levine Sullivan
Koch & Schulz; Maria Vullo of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton &
Garrison; and Rowan Wilson of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Jones, the fourth black judge in the court's history, died
of a heart attack on Nov. 6. Governor Andrew Cuomo must select
his replacement from the commission's list between March 22 and
April 6. The state Senate will then have 30 days to confirm or
reject the candidate.
Last month, the state Senate confirmed CUNY Law Professor
Jenny Rivera to the court. Rivera, who replaced former Court of
Appeal's Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, was Cuomo's first
Abdus-Salaam, Fahey and Schulz were also nominated for
Rivera's confirmation came amid criticism from some
Republican lawmakers who accused Cuomo and other governors of
attempting to socially engineer appellate courts by appointing
people based on ethnicity and gender.
With the list released on Thursday, Cuomo has several
chances to make history. If chosen and confirmed, Abdus-Salaam
or Renwick would be the first black woman to sit on the Court of
Appeals. Schulz would be the court's first openly gay judge.
According to the commission, 71 people applied for Jones'
seat, and the panel interviewed 37 candidates.
"That so many highly qualified candidates were interested in
the current vacancy amply demonstrates the remarkable strength
and depth of New York's legal community," former Chief Judge
Judith Kaye, the chair of the commission, said in a statement.
Abdus-Salaam, 60, was appointed to the First Department in
2009, after sitting in Manhattan Supreme Court for 15 years. She
was previously an attorney with East Brooklyn Legal Services
Corporation, the New York City Law Department and the city's
Office of Labor Services.
Renwick, 52, was first elected to State Supreme Court in
2002, and appointed to the First Department in 2008. She
previously worked for the Legal Aid Society and was a federal
defender in the Eastern District of New York.
Levanthal, 64, was appointed to the Second Department in
2008. As a Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn from 1996 to 2008,
he presided over the first felony Domestic Violence Court in the
country. Prior to becoming a judge, Levanthal was an appellate
attorney in private practice.
Fahey, 61, was appointed to the Fourth Department in 2006.
Before that, he sat in Erie County Supreme Court and Buffalo
Schulz, 60, is a founding partner of Levine Sullivan Koch &
Schulz, which was formed in 2003. He is an adjunct professor at
Yale Law School and Columbia Law School, and a frequent author
and lecturer on topics related to the press and the First
Vullo, 49, has been with Paul Weiss since 1988, where she is
a partner in the firm's litigation department. For most of 2010,
she served as a deputy attorney general for economic justice
Wilson, 52, joined Cravath in 1986, and became a partner in
the litigation department in 1992. From 1984 to 1986, he clerked
for former Ninth Circuit Chief Judge James Browning.
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook