June 6, 2023
BW News

Cuomo picks Janet DiFiore to lead New York’s Court of Appeals

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Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore will become the state’s next chief judge if she’s confirmed by the state Senate next year. DiFiore, a formerly-Republican prosecutor and former appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is the governor’s pick to lead the state’s Court of Appeals, Cuomo said Tuesday morning in Harlem.

DiFiore has served as Westchester DA since 2006, and from 2011 to 2013 chaired the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics. She was picked from a pool of seven candidates and will replace Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who is leaving at year’s end after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

“Janet DiFiore is tremendously qualified to serve as Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals,” Cuomo said in a statement. “She has served as both judge and prosecutor, and has spent her career working to ensure justice and fairness for New Yorkers. 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. I am proud to nominate Janet for this position, because she has the strong, balanced experience that New York needs.”

DiFiore said she was “humbled” and “grateful.” She would be the second woman to lead the Court of Appeals; the late Mario Cuomo, the current governor’s father, who himself served as governor from 1983 to 1994, named Judith Kaye as chief judge in 1993.

In Westchester County, where Difiore has served as DA, all are not pleased with the Governor’s choice. BW has long reported family members disappointment in her handing the investigation of the killing of their loved ones at the hands of the police. One in particular is son of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr who was killed by the White Plains Police Department while answering a call when Chamberlain inadvertently trigger his Life Aid medical alert necklace, while he was sleeping, four years ago.

“Governor Cuomo announced he has nominated Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore to succeed Jonathan Lippman when Lippman retires on Dec. 31 as the next Chief Judge on the NYS Court of Appeals. The governor said DiFiore is “tremendously qualified” to succeed Lippman, and has spent her career working to ensure justice and fairness for New Yorkers,” Kenneth Chamberlain Jr tells BW.

“WAIT A MINUTE!!!!! This is the same District Attorney that came back with no true bill (no indictment) in the killing of Detective Christopher Ridley, Danroy DJ Henry and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., and although evidence did suggest that there should be indictments in each of these cases she said that after due deliberation on the evidence presented in these matters, the grand jury’s found that there was no reasonable cause to vote an indictment. This is also the same DA that said that the racial slur one officer flung at Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., before another cop killed him was done in an effort to “distract” him. DiFiore then contradicted herself by saying that “the use of (racial epithets) by anyone, let alone a public servant who is sworn to uphold the public good, is intolerable.” She is about to become the next Chief Judge.”

DiFiore was seen as a front-runner for the position by some, and the New York Post reported earlier this year on a rumor that Cuomo was planning to elevate her. In addition to her time as DA, DiFiore spent three years as a Supreme Court justice in Westchester and co-chairs the New York State Justice Task Force.

Difore’s nomination must be approved by the Republican controlled State Senate who have no plans to hold a session this month to do so. The Court of Appeals is scheduled to reconvene and hear arguments starting on Jan. 4.

“It seems as if we live in a world where we reward dishonesty and unfair practices,” Chamberlain says in closing. “As leaders we must always remember that there are people who look to us for guidance. We must be firm, fair, reliable, and consistent.”

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