Vacancy on the high court

May 17, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Hon. Theodore T. JonesCould another Brooklyn lawyer ascend to the Court of Appeals?


By Ryan Thompson

Brooklyn Daily Eagle  


NEW YORK  Local lawyers are being encouraged to apply to New York’s highest court, where a vacancy will open up following Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick’s mandatory retirement at the end of the year.


Lawyers, legal scholars and jurists will have a chance to join the prestigious court, where he or she would serve beside Brooklyn-born and former Kings County Administrative Judge Theodore T. Jones, who, besides Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, is the most junior member of the court.


However, Judge Jones, too, will reach the mandatory retirement age within the next several years. In fact, within the next five years, five of the seven Court of Appeals judges will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. The judges are appointed to 14-year terms otherwise. 


The New York Court of Appeals on Eagle Street in Albany.State Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III spoke yesterday in Rochester at a session hosted by the state Commission on Judicial Nomination. He joined former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye in seeking a large and diverse pool of candidates for an upcoming vacancy on the seven-member Court of Appeals.


“Our courts should reflect our communities, and our highest court should reflect the diverse character of our state, and the increasing diversity in our profession and our society,” Doyle said. “Whether your experience is in the public sector, private practice, academia, indigent legal services or any other practice setting, your expertise could be an enormous asset to our judiciary.”


Over the next several months, the commission will consider nominations to replace Judge Ciparick, the court’s senior judge, who is leaving at the end of the year because she has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. She is the only judge on the court to be appointed prior to 2000.


The New York Court of Appeals consists of (from left to right, top row) Judge Theodore J. Jones, Judge Robert S. Smith, Judge Susan Phillips Read, Judge Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. (bottom row) Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Judge Victoria A. Graffeo.Doyle said the new associate judge will have big shoes to fill, calling Ciparick “a brilliant jurist whose combination of legal expertise, fairness and compassion has been a tremendous asset to our judiciary and the people of New York state.”


There are only two requirements for a seat on the Court of Appeals: the applicant must be a New York resident and admitted to practice law in New York for at least 10 years. Judicial experience is not required. Nor do candidates need to be practicing attorneys. However, they should reflect “not only legal excellence, but collegiality and a commitment to consensus-building,” according to the commission.


The process is much like that for any other job. Candidates fill out a short questionnaire and submit a resume, cover letter, work samples and references to the commission, which then decides whom to interview.


After an extensive outreach that includes public meetings in Albany, Rochester and New York City and active solicitation and review of potential candidates, the commission will submit a list of three to seven candidates to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Dec. 1. Early next year, the governor will nominate a final candidate from that list, who must be confirmed by the state Senate.


For more information on the application process, interested candidates are encouraged to visit the State of New York Commission on Judicial Nomination website at

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