NY’s Top Court Fills Two Vacancies With Cuomo Choices

ALBANY (AP) —

New York’s highest court filled its empty seats Monday after two longtime jurists nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo sailed through confirmation hearings and were confirmed by the state Senate.

Justices Leslie Stein and Eugene Fahey will start hearing cases Tuesday. They are filling two vacancies on the seven-member Court of Appeals, where the lack of a majority prevented rulings in January in cases about bank liability for terrorism and the return of autopsied body parts to families. Those cases will be heard again.

Sen. John Bonacic, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, which questioned the nominees for about an hour Monday and then unanimously approved them, said he thinks Stein and Fahey are “qualified to go to the Court of Appeals.”

“I think it’s probably the most important appointment. More important than the governor. More important than elected officials,” Bonacic said. “Their decisions will affect the quality of life of thousands and thousands of New Yorkers for generation or generations to come.”

Both judges promised not to be “activist judges” or politically beholden to Cuomo. Terms are 14 years, but the judges must retire after turning 70. The annual salary is $192,500.

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