Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced five appointments to fill vacancies in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, in all four of New York's Judicial Departments. The justices selected today are a dynamic collection of talent and experience on the trial courts and reflect the excellence and diversity of the judicial system throughout New York State.
"These appointees represent some of the best and brightest legal minds in the Empire State, displaying exceptional integrity, temperament and commitment to public service," Governor Cuomo said. "I am proud to appoint these judges to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and am confident they will do a great as stewards of New York's judicial system."
Appellate Division-First Department Appointee:
The Governor appointed Supreme Court Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez to fill a vacancy on the Appellate Division-First Department. The First Department covers Manhattan and the Bronx.
Honorable Lizbeth González
Justice González serves as Associate Justice of Supreme Court Appellate Term in the First Department, a position she has held since July 2016. Justice González also serves as Supreme Court Justice in the Civil Branch for Bronx County. Prior to these positions, she was an Acting Supreme Court Justice for the Supreme Court's Civil Branch in Bronx County from 2011 to 2015. She also served as Judge for the NYC Family Court in 2010, Judge for the NYC Civil Court from 2005 to 2010, and Judge for the Housing Part of the NYC Civil Court from 1999 to 2004. Justice González was an Assistant Attorney General for the NYS Department of Law from 1990 to 1995, an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the NYC Law Department from 1987 to 1990, and a Senior Attorney for MFY Legal Services from 1980 to 1986. She obtained a J.D. from New York University and a B.A. in Anthropology from Stony Brook University.
Appellate Division-Second Department Appointee:
The Governor appointed Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten to fill a vacancy on the Appellate Division-Second Department. The Second Department comprises a ten-county downstate region that includes Kings, Queens, and Richmond counties: Long Island; and the lower Hudson Valley.
Honorable Paul Wooten
Justice Wooten presides over civil matters in Kings County Supreme Court, having been elected to the Supreme Court bench in 2009. Prior to taking the bench, Justice Wooten was principal and owner of Paul Wooten & Associates. Justice Wooten was a former Counsel to the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, Special Assistant to New York City Board of Education Members, First Deputy Counsel to the New York City Charter Revision Commission, and former Chief of Staff to the Vice-Chairman of the New York State Democratic Party at the National Convention. Justice Wooten also served as Counsel to the Coalition for Community Empowerment, Chief of Staff Counsel to Assemblyman Albert Vann, and Counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Children and Families. He is a Founding Member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Justice Wooten earned a J.D. from Northeastern Law School and a B.A. from the University of Hartford.
Appellate Division-Third Department Appointees:
The Governor appointed Supreme Court Justices John Colangelo and Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald to fill two vacancies on the Appellate Division-Third Department. The Third Department covers twenty-eight counties in the Eastern and Northern portions of Upstate New York, ranging from the mid-Hudson Valley to the Canadian Border and as far as west as Schuyler and Chemung counties in the Southern Tier.
Honorable John P. Colangelo
Justice Colangelo is a Supreme Court Justice in the Ninth Judicial District, a position to which he was elected in 2013. Prior to becoming a Supreme Court Justice, he was a Judge in Westchester County Court from 2010 to 2013, and a City Court Judge in New Rochelle from 2002 to 2009. Prior to becoming a judge, Justice Colangelo was in private practice at Colangelo & Goldenberg LLP. Justice Colangelo received his J.D. from New York University School of Law and B.A. from Brown University.
Honorable Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald
Justice Fitzgerald has served as the Administrative Judge of the Sixth Judicial District since 2016. She was elected as a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2007 and began her term in January 2008. Prior to her election, she was a partner at the Binghamton firm Smyk & Fitzgerald, LLP. Justice Fitzgerald also practiced law in Elmira and Athens, Georgia. She obtained her J.D. from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and a B.A. from Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
Appellate Division-Fourth Department Appointee:
The Governor appointed Supreme Court Justice Tracey Bannister to fill a vacancy on the Appellate Division-Fourth Department. The Fourth Department encompasses twenty-two Upstate Counties in the Western and Central portions of the State, stretching as far north as Jefferson County.
Honorable Tracey Bannister
Justice Bannister is a Supreme Court Justice for the Eighth Judicial District, a position she was first elected to in 2008. She was also the Supervising Judge for Civil Matters in the Eighth Judicial District from 2016 until the time of this appointment. Prior to that position, Justice Bannister was an Acting Justice in the Kenmore Village Court from 2005 to 2008. She was also a Law Clerk for the Hon. Jerome C. Gorski the New York State Supreme Court and Appellate Division for the Fourth Department. In addition, Justice Bannister was a Trial Attorney for Dempsey & Dempsey and the Law Office of Richard Binko. She obtained her J.D. from DePaul University and her B.A. from Rutgers University.
The Judicial Screening Committees for each of the four Appellate Departments reviewed the applications and conducted interviews of dozens of applicants. Only those applicants deemed "highly qualified" by the Committees were submitted to the Governor for his consideration. To be found "highly qualified," candidates must display integrity, independence, leadership, intellect, legal ability, judgment, temperament, and experience.
The Governor's Office will continue to review candidates that successfully advance through the screening process to fill vacancies in the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court.
Under the New York State Constitution and Judiciary Law, the Governor has the authority to appoint Justices to each Appellate Division from among those who have been elected as Justices of the Supreme Court. These appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.