ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Senate has confirmed longtime Westchester County prosecutor Janet DiFiore as New York’s chief judge.
The voice vote, with no opposition, followed an hour of praise for the 60-year-old district attorney by both Republicans and Democrats.
DiFiore, also a former trial court judge, has been Westchester’s top prosecutor for a decade.
She replaces Judge Jonathan Lippman — who retired — as presiding judge at the seven-member Court of Appeals that often makes case law for New York.
DiFiore also becomes administrative head of the state court system.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated DiFiore from a list of seven lawyers advanced by a state commission that found them well qualified among 33 applicants. Others included former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and former New York Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti.
Cuomo released a statement congratulating DiFiore.
“She has demonstrated unparalleled integrity and independence throughout her career as both a judge and prosecutor, and her commitment to the highest ethical standards makes her one of New York’s finest public servants,” Cuomo said. “Her keen intellect, unassailable credibility, and diverse experience will serve the Court well and ensure a stronger and fairer state for all. I congratulate Chief Judge DiFiore on her confirmation, and look forward to seeing her lead the Court for years to come.”
Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican, praised DiFiore for helping overturn the murder conviction that wrongfully put one man in prison for 17 years. DeFrancisco is pushing legislation for a new commission to review complaints of prosecutor misconduct.
DiFiore becomes the state’s second female chief judge. The late Judith Kaye, who served in the position from 1993-2008, was the first.
First Deputy District Attorney James McCarty will take DiFiore’s place as Acting District Attorney of Westchester County.
“It has been an absolute honor to serve under Janet DiFiore during her tenure as the Westchester County District Attorney. There is no one serving in the public sector that I hold in higher esteem. I look forward to leading the excellent staff she has assembled over the coming year,” McCarty said in a statement.
A special election will be held on Nov. 8 to elect a new District Attorney.
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