Fordham Law

Three appellate judges out as Democrats win in New York voting

Fordham Law Alum John J. Leo in Reuters, November 07, 2012

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Nov 7 (Reuters) - Three Republican judges who sit on New York state appeals courts were defeated in judicial elections, including Justice James Catterson, who sits on the influential Appellate Division, First Department.

Justices Michael Kavanagh and Bernard Malone, who sit on the Appellate Division, Third Department, also lost to Democratic challengers, according to unofficial results.

The losses were part of a dominant Democratic performance in judicial elections Tuesday, with some 30 seats on the Supreme Court, which includes the Appellate Division, up for grabs along with a number of local judicial positions.

It will be up to Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to name replacements for the appeals court vacancies created by the election. Cuomo will make the appointments from among the judges on the Supreme Court.

Catterson, 54, finished eighth among 12 candidates vying for six seats in Long Island, according to preliminary results. He did not immediately return a call for comment on Thursday.

A former deputy county attorney in Suffolk County, he was appointed to the First Department in 2004 by former governor George Pataki after six years in state Supreme Court.

Among his notable decisions: the 2009 majority opinion in Kaur v. New York State Urban Development Corp, in which he condemned the state for using eminent domain to give land to Columbia University but concluded the court could not prevent it; and a dissent earlier this year in Matter of Jaquan, in which he defended the New York City Police Department's right to stop and frisk a juvenile who was spotted taking an object from his waistband.

Kavanagh, 69, was the district attorney in Ulster County for 20 years prior to being elected to the state judiciary. He was appointed to the Appellate Division in 2008 by former governor Eliot Spitzer.

Malone, also 69, is a former Albany County assistant district attorney and assistant U.S. attorney. He was appointed to the Appellate Division, First Department, in 2005 by Pataki; Spitzer appointed him to the Third Department in 2008.

Malone and Kavanagh did not return calls left with the Third Department.

The First Department includes Manhattan and the Bronx. The Third Department covers a large area of the state from Albany to the Adirondacks and west to Binghamton.

In other top races (all results are unofficial):

SECOND DEPARTMENT (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, and five other counties)

* In Long Island, where Catterson lost, Democrats won five of six seats. Second Department Justice Peter Skelos was the lone Republican. The other winners were Justice Leonard Austin, former Suffolk County Court judge Richard Ambro, Nassau County District Court Judge Sondra Pardes and attorneys John Leo and Leonard Steinman.

* Democrats also won all three Supreme Court seats that were on the ballot in the 9th Judicial District, which includes Westchester County and other northern suburbs of New York City. Republican Supreme Court Justice John LaCava was ousted after being topped by Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald Loehr and attorneys Maria Rosa and Sandra Sciortino.