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Mayor de Blasio Appoints 46 Judges To Family, Criminal And Civil Court

January 31, 2019

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio has made 46 judicial appointments for the New Year, including four appointments and two reappointments to Family Court; nine appointments and nineteen reappointments to Criminal Court; and nine appointments and three reappointments to Civil Court. Judges appointed or reappointed to Civil Court sit in either Criminal or Family Court. The appointments were effective January 1, 25, and 28. In addition, Mayor de Blasio has designated three appointees for vacancies anticipated in March.

“An impartial justice system is essential to building a fairer city for all. The thirteen judges I am appointing, and the thirty-three I am welcoming back, will represent the people of our city with fair and effective judicial oversight of our courts,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Family, Criminal and Civil Court are part of the New York State Unified Court System. Family Court judges hear cases related to adoption, foster care and guardianship, custody and visitation, domestic violence, abused or neglected children, and juvenile delinquency. The City’s Criminal Court handles misdemeanor cases and lesser offenses, and conducts arraignments. Eight of the nine judges appointed to Civil Court will sit in Criminal Court, one will sit in Family Court.

The Mayor appointed the following judges to Family Court:

Judge Keith Brown has practiced family law for 14 years and spent most of his career in public service having worked in the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department, as a Court Attorney to a Family Court Judge, and most recently for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Family Court Legal Services. He was also a solo practitioner for five years practicing family and criminal law. Judge Brown is a graduate of Rutgers University and received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Judge Karen Cortes has practiced family law for nearly 15 years, spending most of her career with the New York State Unified Court System as a Court Attorney to a Family Court Judge and most recently as a Court Attorney Referee in Family Court, Bronx County. She was also a Staff Attorney/Team Leader for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Division of Legal Services. Judge Cortes graduated from New York University and Brooklyn Law School.

Judge Gregory Gliedman has practiced family law his entire legal career for 17 ½ years, first as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division, then as a solo practitioner, and most recently, as a Support Magistrate in Family Court, Richmond County. Judge Gliedman received his undergraduate degree from Occidental College and his law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Judge Elizabeth Fassler has practiced family law for 20 years, first at the Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice in Bronx County, and for the past 14 years with the Center for Family Representation where she held several positions including Co-Director of the Queens County Practice. Judge Fassler is a graduate of Brandeis University and received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law.

The Mayor appointed the following judges to Criminal Court:

Judge Angela Badamo was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in May 2017 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Badamo served with the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Appeals Bureau and subsequently joined the New York State Unified Court System as a Law Clerk in both Criminal and Civil Courts before serving as Assistant Deputy Counsel in the Office of the Chief Administrative Judge. Judge Badamo is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton and received her J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law.

Judge Beth Beller was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2017 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Beller served with the New York State Unified Court System for 11 years as a Principal Court Attorney in Supreme Court, Criminal Division, Bronx County. Prior to that, she served with the New York County District Attorney's Office for 17 years. Judge Beller is a graduate of New York University and received her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law.

Judge Michael Hartofilis was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Judge Hartofilis was with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for eight years before starting his own criminal defense practice, which he maintained for the last 22 years. Judge Hartofilis is a graduate of New York University and received his J.D from Temple University School of Law.

Judge Marisol Martinez Alonso was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Martinez Alonso served as Deputy Chief of a Trial Bureau at the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, where she had served for the past 16 ½ years in various bureaus. Judge Martinez Alonso is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and received her J.D. from New York Law School.

Judge Edwin Novillo was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Novillo served with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice for 14 ½ years, most recently as a Senior Staff Attorney in Queens County. Judge Novillo is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and received his J.D. from Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.

Judge Adam Perlmutter was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in March 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Perlmutter had been practicing criminal law for 22 years as a prosecutor with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, a solo practitioner, and a partner in various firms, most recently at Perlmutter & McGuinness, PC. Judge Perlmutter is a graduate of Columbia University and received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Judge Jeffrey Rosenblueth was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in May 2017 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Rosenblueth was with the Queen’s County District Attorney’s Office before becoming a criminal defense attorney in private practice. He also previously served with the New York State Unified Court System as a Principal Law Clerk in Supreme Court, Criminal Term, Queens County. Judge Rosenblueth is a graduate of New York University and received his J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Judge Ann Thompson was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Thompson was the Bureau Chief of the Special Victims Bureau at the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, where she served for the past ten and a half years in both the Special Victims Bureau and Criminal Court Bureau. Judge Thompson is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Judge Jeffrey Zimmerman was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Zimmerman served as Deputy Director of Crime Strategies and Public Safety at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County, as Chief of the General Crimes Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office, and as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Time Warner Cable where he spent 17 years. Judge Zimmerman is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received his J.D. from Columbia University Law School.

The Mayor appointed the following judges to Civil Court:

Judge Linda Capitti served as a Principal Court Attorney in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court for 12 years and prior to that in Family Court, Bronx County. She also served as a Staff Attorney at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services/Human Resources Administration in the Child Support Litigation Unit. Judge Capitti received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and her law degree from New York Law School. Judge Capitti was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Family Court.

Judge Michael Gaffey has been a criminal law practitioner for 32 years working for The Legal Aid Society, in a partnership, as a solo, and most recently for Queens Law Associates where he served as a Supervising Attorney and Deputy Director. Judge Gaffey is a graduate of Adelphi University and Hofstra University School of Law. Judge Gaffey was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Wanda (Wendy) Licitra has practiced criminal law for nearly 33 years starting with The Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn and the Bronx, followed by the Queens Law Associates where she last served as a Supervising Attorney in Arraignments. Judge Licitra is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and Hofstra University School of Law. Judge Licitra was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Archana Rao spent her entire career with the New York County District Attorney’s Office working in several bureaus during her 17 year tenure there. She last served as Bureau Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau. Judge Rao is a graduate of Vassar College and Fordham University School of Law. Judge Rao was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Robert Rosenthal was a solo practitioner for the last 26 years litigating in state and federal courts across the country in areas of law including civil rights, criminal, death penalty, domestic relations, state and federal habeas corpus, guardianship, intellectual property, and medical malpractice appeals. He also served as Supervising Attorney for Cardozo Law School’s Criminal Appeals Clinic. Judge Rosenthal graduated from Indiana University and Cardozo Law School. Judge Rosenthal was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Quynda Santacroce started her career with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office serving in several bureaus including the Career Criminal Major Crimes Bureau and Kew Gardens I Felony Trial Bureau. She subsequently became a Principal Court Attorney serving in Queens Criminal Court, Integrated Domestic Violence Part, and the Queens Youth Part. Judge Santacroce graduated from Cornell University and Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Judge Santacroce was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Audrey Stone has worked in the public and private sector including The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division, Pace Women’s Justice Center, The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the New York State Office of Court Administration where she last served as Chief Counsel on Family Violence Cases for the Office of Policy and Planning. Judge Stone graduated from Brown University and New York University School of Law. Judge Stone was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Jonathan Svetkey was a former prosecutor with the Kings County and Bronx District Attorney’s Offices before he formed a partnership practicing criminal defense, immigration, and personal injury. He most recently joined the Unified Court System where he last served as an Associate Court Attorney in Criminal Court. Judge Svetkey graduated from the University of Rochester and Catholic University School of Law. Judge Svetkey was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

Judge Kerry Ward spent her entire 30 year career with the Unified Court System serving as a Principal Law Clerk and Principal Court Attorney in Supreme Court, Criminal and Civil Terms. She last served as Chief of Staff in the Office of Policy and Planning. Judge Ward is a graduate of Pace University and Syracuse University College of Law. Judge Ward was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

The Mayor reappointed the following judges to Family Court:

Judge Maria Arias has been a Family Court Judge since January 2010.  Prior to her appointment, Judge Arias was a Clinical Law Professor for CUNY Law School, Main Street Legal Services, Battered Women’s Rights Clinic for more than 19 years.  She was also a staff attorney for the Council of New York Law Associates’ Community Development Legal Assistance Center and for the Legal Aid Society’s Volunteer Division, Community Law Offices.  Judge Arias received her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and law degree from New York University School of Law. 

Judge Helene Sacco was appointed as a Family Court Judge in August 2006 and has been serving as the Supervising Judge of Richmond County Family Court since July 2010.  Judge Sacco began her career as an associate for several law firms.  She also previously served with the New York State Unified Court System for almost ten years as court attorney to the Supervising Judge of Richmond County’s Civil Court. She was also an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University where she received her undergraduate and law degrees.

The Mayor reappointed the following judges to Criminal Court:

Judge Stephen Antignani, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2013.  He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in July 2012 and served in Criminal Court.  Prior to his appointment, he was with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and New York State Office of the Attorney General, as well as the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, where he last served as Bureau Chief of the Public Corruption Bureau.  He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and his law degree from Boston College Law School. 

Judge Heidi Cesare was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2016.  She was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2015, serving in Criminal Court.  Judge Cesare began her career serving with the Legal Aid Society for 15 years.  She then joined the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc. in the Eastern District of New York.  Judge Cesare graduated from Columbia College and received her law degree from Boston University School of Law.

Judge Danny Chun, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since May 1999.  He had been with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for over 12 years prior to his appointment.  Since 2008, he has taught a course every summer at the Yonsei University School of Law in Seoul, South Korea.  Judge Chun graduated from Johns Hopkins University and received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Judge Abraham Clott, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2007.  He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2004 and served in Criminal Court.  Judge Clott began his career as an associate in a private firm before serving with the Legal Aid Society for twenty years.  He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and received his law degree from New York University School of Law.

Judge Lenora Gerald, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since December 2003.  She was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge serving in Criminal Court in December 2001.  Prior to her appointment, she served with the New York State Unified Court System in various capacities including as Court Attorney, Principal Law Clerk and Court Attorney Referee.  Judge Gerald received her undergraduate degree from St. Vincent’s College of St. John’s University and her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law.

Judge Joseph Gubbay, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in April 1999.  He began his career serving with The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.  He also served with the New York City Department of Investigation for 12 years, including as an Inspector General, and was Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption before his appointment to the bench.  Judge Gubbay is a graduate of Tufts University and received his law degree from New York University School of Law.

Judge Diane Kiesel, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in April 1999.  Prior to her appointment, she was an associate with a firm and served with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for 10 years.  Judge Kiesel received her undergraduate degree from Douglass College of Rutgers University, her master’s degree from The American University and law degree from Columbus Law School of the Catholic University of America. 

Judge Michael Kitsis was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in December 2016.  Prior to his appointment, Judge Kitsis served with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for 33 years in various capacities including as Senior Investigative Counsel and Bureau Chief.  Judge Kitsis is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Judge Donald Leo, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in December 2015.  He began his career serving with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for 13 years.  He also served as the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Sex Offender Management Bureau with the New York State Office of the Attorney General prior to his appointment.  Judge Leo is a graduate of New York University and received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

Judge Gene Lopez, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since January 2002.  He has served with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, New York City Department of Sanitation, New York City Transit Authority, and New York City Housing Authority. Prior to his appointment, he was Executive Director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.  Judge Lopez received his undergraduate degree from American University and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. 

Judge Kevin McGrath was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2009 and has been serving as the Supervising Judge of New York County Criminal Court since March 2018.  He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in September 2008 serving in Criminal Court.  Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge McGrath was with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for 14 years in various capacities including as Bureau Chief.  Judge McGrath is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Judge Raja Rajeswari was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in April 2015.  She was a career prosecutor for 16 years with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office.  Judge Rajeswari is a graduate of CUNY College of Staten Island and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. 

Judge Neil Ross, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since April 1999.  He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge serving in Criminal Court in May 1998.  Judge Ross has served with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York.  He received his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College and his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law. 

Judge Ann Scherzer, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since January 2013.  She was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge serving in Criminal Court in January 2012.  Prior to her appointment, she served with the New York County District Attorney’s Office, New York City Law Department and Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department.  Judge Scherzer is a graduate of The University of Michigan and received her law degree from Boston University School of Law.

Judge Toko Serita, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in October 2005.  She served with The Legal Aid Society for over 9 years before moving on to the New York State Unified Court System to serve as Principal Court Attorney and Executive Assistant/Deputy Chief Court Attorney.  Judge Serita received her undergraduate degree from Vassar College and her law degree from CUNY Law School, Queens College.

Judge Deborah Stevens Modica, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since October 1997.  She began her career serving with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for 11 years.  Thereafter, she served with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for 7 years in various capacities including as Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney and Bureau Chief.  Judge Stevens Modica is a graduate of Thomas More College of Fordham University and received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Judge Jane Tully, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2013.  Judge Tully began her career with the New York City Law Department, Family Court Division.  She then went on to serve with the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and New York County District Attorney’s Office.  Judge Tully received her undergraduate degree from New York University and her law degree from Columbia University School of Law.

Judge Michael Yavinsky was appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in January 2010.  He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2009 and served in Criminal Court.  He has been Supervising Judge of Kings County Criminal Court since February 2013.  Prior to his appointment, Judge Yavinsky was with The Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division and Queens Law Associates, P.C.  He then moved on to serve with the New York State Unified Court System as Supervising Court Attorney and Chief Court Attorney.  Judge Yavinsky received his undergraduate degree from Connecticut College and his law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. 

Judge Alvin Yearwood, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, has been a Criminal Court Judge since January 2003.  His career includes serving with the Nassau County and Bronx County District Attorney’s Offices.  He has also served as an associate with several law firms and briefly maintained a solo practice.  Judge Yearwood is a graduate of Lafayette College and received his law degree from Boston University School of Law.

The Mayor reappointed the following judges to Civil Court:

Judge Deepa Ambekar was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in May 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court.  Prior to her appointment, Judge Ambekar served with the New York City Council as a Senior Legislative Attorney and Counsel to the Committee on Public Safety. Prior to that, she served as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division. Judge Ambekar is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her J.D. from Rutgers Law School.

Judge Jeffrey Gershuny was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in March 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Gershuny most recently served as Chief Counsel to the Administrative Judge of New York City Criminal Court. Prior to that, he was a Supervising Court Attorney in Criminal Court, New York County for seven years. Judge Gershuny is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton University and received his J.D. from Hofstra University Law School.

Judge Jonathan Shim was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Family Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Shim worked as an associate at several firms before starting his own practice in family and matrimonial law, which he maintained for the last nine and a half years. Judge Shim is a graduate of SUNY at Albany and received his J.D. from Albany Law School.

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