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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo nominated a former federal prosecutor Wednesday to serve on New York’s top court — marking the first time the Democratic governor has sought to put a Republican on the state Court of Appeals.
Cuomo selected Michael Garcia — who not only preceded Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York but also whose office investigated a prostitution ring that led to the resignation of then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Garcia, 54, an appointee of President George W. Bush, was the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan from 2005-08.
Garcia would replace Susan Read, a Pataki-era Republican appointee who retired last year. Garcia became the first Republican of six Court of Appeals selections by Cuomo. If confirmed, Garcia would serve a 14-year term.
Garcia had the support of state Senate Republicans — in fact, he had represented them in a challenge by a Cuomo commission to subpoena lawmakers’ private business records. Garcia also was considered a GOP choice to run for state attorney general in 2014, though he didn’t run.
Despite that, Cuomo praised Garcia as a “tremendous” asset to the court.
“Michael Garcia is a talented, experienced, and skilled prosecutor who will make a tremendous addition to the Court of Appeals,” the governor said in a statement. “From his work in the private sector, to serving with distinction as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and in the Department of Homeland Security, Michael has the kind of broad, well-rounded perspective on the law that our state’s highest court requires.”
Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, a master’s from the College of William and Mary and a law degree from Albany Law School.
Currently, the Court of Appeals has four Democrats, one Republican and two vacancies. But Democrat Janet DiFiore is expected to be confirmed as chief judge Thursday, filling one of the vacancies; Garcia would fill the last vacancy.