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Hochul nominates judge from western NY for state's top court

Gov. Kathy Hochul made her first nomination to

Gov. Kathy Hochul made her first nomination to New York's top court Wednesday, tapping Shirley Troutman, a veteran judge from Buffalo. Troutman would replace Eugene Fahey, also from Erie County. Credit: Supreme Court of State of New York

ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul made her first nomination to New York’s top court Wednesday, tapping Shirley Troutman, a veteran judge from Buffalo.

If confirmed — which is all but certain in the Democratic-led State Senate — Troutman would become the second Black woman to sit on the seven-member state Court of Appeals.

Troutman, 62, would replace Eugene Fahey, also from Erie County, who has reached the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges and must step down on Dec. 31.

It’s not unusual for a governor to replace, say, a Western New York judge with another, as geographical balance on the Court of Appeals has long been a political concern. But some groups had been pushing for Hochul to select someone from the defense bar because there’s no one on the court now with that background.

Troutman has been a judge since 1994, beginning as a Buffalo City Court judge and working her way up the judicial ladder. Since 2016, she has served on New York’s midlevel Appellate Division court based in Rochester. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University at Buffalo and a law degree from Albany Law School of Union University.

"Justice Troutman has a brilliant legal mind, a fair-minded judicial philosophy, sterling qualifications, and a commitment to equal justice that guides her approach from the bench," said Hochul, who also is from Buffalo, in a statement. "I am confident she will serve with distinction on the New York State Court of Appeals."

Hochul became governor on Aug. 25, following the resignation of Andrew M. Cuomo, who has appointed all the other judges on the Court of Appeals.

Troutman’s nomination was hailed by Hazel Dukes, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, along with Buffalo-area elected officials. She also was praised by Timothy P. Donaher, the Monroe County public defender.

"As a Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Justice Troutman is always prepared and engaged, and has an excellent judicial demeanor," Donaher said in a statement. "She is sensitive to racial justice issues, and how those issues often negatively intersect with the criminal justice system. I look forward to her tenure at the Court of Appeals and believe she will be a strong advocate for addressing the inequities in our criminal and family court systems."

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