Courthouse Buzz: Two First Department Justices Seek PJ Post in Second

First Department Justices Angela Mazzarelli and David Friedman have asked Governor Andrew Cuomo’s screening committee for the Second Department to clear them as candidates to succeed that court’s presiding justice, A. Gail Prudenti, who was named chief administrative judge in October.

Neither justice returned a phone call inquiring about their candidacies, but the story that they have is in wide circulation, several judges reported.

Justice Friedman was appointed by former Governor George Pataki in 1999, a little over a year after he was elected to the Supreme Court in his home district which included Brooklyn. As a resident of Brooklyn, Justice Friedman would not be required to relocate to qualify to serve as presiding justice (PJ) in the Second Department, which has its courthouse in Brooklyn. Nor would Justice Mazzarelli, who is reported to have a second home on Long Island in addition to her Manhattan apartment.

Justice Mazzarelli was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo in late 1994 shortly before he left office. At the time, Justice Mazzarelli was completing her second year as an elected Supreme Court justice.

A large number of candidates are reportedly vying for the open position. Among them are Second Department Justices William F. Mastro, Cheryl E. Chambers and Robert J. Miller and Justice Alan D. Sheinkman, administrative judge for the Ninth Judicial District.

Like Justices Mazzarelli and Friedman, those judges did not return my phone calls.

In addition to the presiding justice spot, the screening panel has solicited applications to fill two other vacancies on the 22-judge court. The Second Department, which covers 10 counties from the Hudson Valley to the tip of Long Island, is the state’s largest.

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