New Vacancy Headache for New York’s Top Court

     ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – New York’s high court, which only got back up to seven-jurist full strength in February, has another vacancy to fill.
     Susan Phillips Read, 68, an associate judge of Court of Appeals since 2003, tendered her resignation Tuesday, effective Aug. 24.
     A court spokesman said Read revealed her plans in a letter to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.
     With Lippman having turned 70 last month, the state Commission on Judicial Nomination is already searching for a new candidate to replace Lippman as chief judge at year’s end.
     State law requires judges in New York to retire at the end of the year in which they turn 70.
     The commission is expected to produce a list of seven chief judge candidates by mid-October for consideration by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
     Cuomo’s pick goes onto confirmation by the state Senate.
     The commission has been alerted to Read’s resignation.
     Filling her position as well as Lippman’s means that Cuomo will have named six of the court’s seven judges.
     Read, an Ohio native who lives in the Albany area, was admitted to the New York state bar in 1974. She worked as chief environmental counsel at General Electric Co. for five years in the 1980s before becoming a partner in private practice in the Albany office of Bond, Schoeneck & King.
     She served two years as deputy counsel to former Gov. George Pataki before being confirmed in 1998 for the state Court of Claims, where she became presiding judge a year later.
     Read received an interim appointment as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals in early January 2003, and was confirmed for the post two weeks later.
     She told the Albany Times Union last month that she might not complete the remainder of her 14-year term on the court, which expires at the end of 2016. She indicated then that she planned a departure but would not say when.
     The high court spent several months last year down a jurist after Cuomo chose not to nominate Judge Victoria Graffeo for another term. Then, at the end of 2014, Judge Robert Smith left after reaching mandatory retirement age.
     Cuomo picked two state appellate justices to fill the slots, but the Senate did not confirm Judges Leslie Stein and Eugene Fahey until February.
     In the interim, at least two cases heard by the Court of Appeals were sent back for reargument when the needed four judges could not be mustered for a decision.
     Cuomo, elected in 2010, also named to the court Judges Jenny Rivera and Sheila Abdus-Salaam in 2013.
     The court’s remaining judge, Eugene Pigott, was tapped by Pataki in 2006.

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