Justice Shirley Troutman

Justice Shirley Troutman

ALBANY (TNS) — The state Senate has confirmed Justice Shirley Troutman, a Buffalo-area appellate judge and former prosecutor, to serve on the New York Court of Appeals.

Troutman, nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul in November to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Eugene Fahey, is the second Black woman to serve on the state’s highest court.

“Justice Shirley Troutman will be an extraordinary addition to the New York State Court of Appeals,” Hochul said in a statement. “During her confirmation hearings, Justice Troutman showed New Yorkers why she is well-suited to join our state’s highest court: her extraordinary qualifications, her superlative legal mind, her fair-minded judicial philosophy, and her commitment to equity and justice for all New Yorkers.”

Troutman’s appointment comes six months after former Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas was nominated to the seven-member Court of Appeals by ex-governor Andrew Cuomo. All other judges on the panel were appointed by Cuomo during his decade in office.

Troutman previously served as a judge in Buffalo City Court and Erie County Court. A graduate of Albany Law School, the 62-year-old worked as a prosecutor in Erie County and as a litigator in the state attorney general’s office and for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Some criminal justice advocates panned Troutman’s placement on the state’s highest court, lamenting the addition of another jurist with a prosecutorial background.

Peter Martin, the judicial accountability project director at Center for Community Alternatives, described Troutman as a “well-regarded jurist,” but said her background as a prosecutor “intensifies an existing imbalance at a moment when New York desperately needs high-court judges with experience representing our most vulnerable communities.”

While Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D- Bronx, voted for Troutman’s nomination, she expressed concern about the current makeup of the state’s top bench.

“The absence of public defenders and civil rights attorneys hinders New York’s highest court from protecting and advancing the rights of criminal defendants, and leads to only a narrow application of the Court’s full power,” she said in a statement. “I implore the Commission on Judicial Nominations and the executive to make it their highest priority to select their next candidate from non-traditional legal backgrounds and those without a prosecutorial background for future seats on the court.”

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