by Jay Gallagher - Albany Bureau Chief - December 1, 2008
ALBANY - Gov. David Paterson said today he is "disturbed'' by the list of candidates sent to him by a screening panel to succeed Judith Kaye as the state's chief judge when she steps down on Dec. 31. He didn't answer when asked what disturbed him about the list, but an aide said later the problem is that no women and only one non-white candidate is among the group he has to pick a successor from. State law calls for Paterson to pick one of the names submitted to him by a screening panel. The panel is headed by John O'Mara of Elmira, a former Pataki administration official and prominent lobbyist. The aide said that Paterson noticed particularly that Carmen Ciparick, a Hispanic woman now sitting on the Court of Appeals, was not on the list.
It was not immediately apparent if Paterson could request a revised list from the group. "He won't get it (another list),'' said Vincent Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School. "That's just not done.'' He said that Ciparick may not have been chosen because she's 66, and thus could serve only four years before being forced to retire, as Kaye is. Overall, he termed the group "by far the strongest list the commission has ever put out. These are extraordinary people.'' The seven people on it are Court of Appeals judges Theodore Jones (an African American) and Eugene Piggott; Jonathan Lippmann, former state chief administrative judge and now an Appellate Division justice; Evan Davis, former counsel to Gov. Mario Cuomo; Steven Fisher, another Appellate Division justice; and two non-judges, Peter Zimroth, head of the state Capital Defenders' Office, and George Carpinello of Albany. Kaye, who has been the top judge for 14 years, has to quit at the end of the year because she turned 70 this year.
Additional Facts on Chief judge candidates
-- George F. Carpinello, 58, a partner in the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Albany. He has been chair of the New York State Advisory Committee on Civil Practice since 1958.
-- Evan A. Davis, 64, former counsel to Gov. Mario Cuomo and currently a partner in the law firm of Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and the editor in chief of the Columbia Law Review.
--Steven W. Fisher, 62, associate justice for the Second Ddepartment of the Appellate Division. He was the acting Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn from 1986 to 1989, and in Queens from 1990 through 1992
-- Theodore T. Jones Jr., 64, associate judge of the Court of Appeals. He served as Brooklyn from 1990 to 2006 and became well known in 2005 when he ordered harsh penalties against a transit union that had struck illegally.
--Jonathan Lippman, 63, Presiding Justice for the First Department of the Appellate Division. He served as chief administrative judge of the New York Unified Court System from 1996 to 2007.
--Eugene F. Pigott Jr., 62, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals since 2005. He served as presiding justice from 2000 to 2006 in the fourth department of the Appellate Division
-- Peter L. Zimroth, 65, partner in the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP. He was previously a director and member of the Executive Committee in the Legal Aid Society.