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New York’s High Court Picks Cannataro as Acting Chief Judge

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A view of the New York State Court of Appeals building is seen in Albany, New York October 12, 2011.
REUTERS/Hans Pennink

New York’s highest court has designated Associate Judge Anthony Cannataro to serve as acting chief judge after Janet DiFiore steps down next week.

Cannataro, the former administrative judge of New York City’s civil court, has been a member of the state’s Court of Appeals since June 2021.

He will remain in charge in an interim capacity until a new chief judge is nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul and confirmed by the state senate.

The state’s Commission on Judicial Nomination, which screens candidates for Court of Appeals vacancies, said it is currently considering applications to replace DiFiore, who leaves on Aug. 31.

As acting chief judge, Cannataro, 57, will have a dual role: leading the seven-member high court and overseeing the operation of the entire state court system.

Cannataro, a son of Italian immigrants and graduate of Columbia University and New York Law School, was first elected to the bench in 2011, serving as a family court judge in Brooklyn and a civil court judge in the Bronx.

In 2016, he was appointed supervising judge Manhattan civil court. The following year, he was named administrative judge for the city’s civil court.

Cannataro, who lives with his husband in Westchester County, has served on several court and bar association committees, including as co-chair of the Richard C. Failla LGBT Commission, according to his court biography.

DiFiore, the state’s chief judge for six years, announced her resignation in a letter to colleagues last month, saying that she was to “move on to the next chapter of my professional life.” She did not elaborate on what she planned to do next.

DiFiore, 66, was district attorney in suburban Westchester County until then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated her to the Court of Appeals in 2015. She is New York’s second female chief judge.

Cuomo nominated Cannataro to the Court of Appeals in May 2021, one of two judges he installed on the high court in his final months in office. The state Senate confirmed Cannataro’s appointment in June 2021.

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