Janet DiFiore

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Janet DiFiore
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Assumed office
February 8, 2016
Appointed byAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byJonathan Lippman
District Attorney of Westchester County
In office
January 1, 2006 – January 26, 2016
Preceded byJeanine Pirro
Succeeded byJames A. McCarty (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1955-08-09) August 9, 1955 (age 63)
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 2007)
Democratic (2007–present)
EducationLong Island University, Post (BA)
St. John's University, New York (JD)

Janet Marie DiFiore (born August 9, 1955) is an American judge who, since 2016, has been the Chief Judge of the State of New York. A New York native, DiFiore graduated from Long Island University and St. John's University School of Law. As a practicing attorney, DiFiore worked in a law firm and in the Westchester District Attorney's Office. DiFiore then was elected a judge of the Westchester County Court, and was subsequently named a justice of the New York Supreme Court (the state trial court in New York), serving in that post from 2003 to 2005. DiFiore left the bench to become district attorney of Westchester County, New York in 2006; she stayed in that position nearly a decade, until Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her to the New York Court of Appeals.

Early life and education[edit]

Janet Marie DiFiore was born on August 9, 1955, in Mount Vernon, New York, the only child of Italian immigrants.[1][2] Raised in Mount Vernon, New York,[2] DiFiore has never lived outside the county.[1] She graduated from Mount Vernon High School.[2]

DiFiore graduated from C.W. Post College at Long Island University and St. John's University School of Law.[2][3]

Legal career[edit]

While a law student, DiFiore interned for Westchester District Attorney Carl A. Vergari.[2] After graduating from law school in 1981, DiFiore became an assistant district attorney in the Westchester District Attorney's Office.[2][4]

DiFiore left in 1987 to work part-time at the law firm of Goodrich & Bendish while raising her family; she worked at the firm until 1994.[2][3] During this period, DiFiore also served as deputy village attorney for Bronxville, New York.[3] In 1994, DiFiore returned to the office to serve as chief of the narcotics bureau under DA Jeanine F. Pirro.[2][3]

In 1998, DiFiore was elected a judge of the Westchester County Court.[2][4] She served in that position from 1999 to 2002.[5] From 2003 to 2005, DiFiore was a justice of the New York Supreme Court (the state trial court in New York).[4][5]

In November 2005, DiFiore was elected Westchester County district attorney, succeeding Pirro.[4] DiFiore defeated Democrat Tony Castro in the race.[3] She took office the following year.[4] As head of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, DiFiore led an office of more than 230 employees.[5]

Soon after assuming office, DiFiore approved new DNA testing to be used in the case of Jeffrey Mark Deskovic, who was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a classmate.[4] Such testing had been refused by Pirro, DiFiore's predecessor.[2] The evidence exonerated Deskovic, and he was released from prison after 16 years.[2][4] DiFiore subsequently set up an inquiry which reviewed the errors in the case and recommended reforms to prevent future wrongful convictions, such as videotaping police interrogations.[4]

In August 2007, DiFiore switched party affiliations, from Republican to Democratic.[5][6] She was twice reelected district attorney, in 2009 and 2013. In September 2009, DiFiore defeated Castro in the Democratic primary and in the general election defeated Castro (who ran on the Independence Party of New York and Working Families Party ballot lines) and Republican candidate Dan Schorr.[3][7] In 2013, DiFiore ran unopposed.[3]

From 2011 to 2013, DiFiore was chairwoman of the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a body to which she was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.[5] DiFiore resigned this position to run for reelection as district attorney.[4] In 2014, Cuomo appointed DiFiore to a juvenile justice commission.[4] DiFiore is also co-chairwoman of the New York Justice Task Force, which investigates wrongful convictions; she was appointed to the task force by Jonathan Lippman, the chief justice of the New York Court of Appeals.[5]

Election results[edit]

Westchester County district attorney general election, 2005[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Janet DiFiore 80,823
Independence Janet DiFiore 8,251
Conservative Janet DiFiore 8,375
Democratic Tony Castro 87,090
Working Families Tony Castro 3,833
Right to Life Anthony J. DeCintio, Jr. 2,892
Total valid votes 191,269
Westchester County district attorney primary election, 2009[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Janet DiFiore 19,728
Democratic Tony Castro 11,621
Write-ins Various 3
Total valid votes 31,352
Westchester County district attorney general election, 2009[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Janet DiFiore 77,292
Conservative Janet DiFiore 7,200
Republican Dan Schorr 56,618
Independence Tony Castro 12,032
Working Families Tony Castro 3,293
Right to Life Anthony J. DeCintio, Jr. 2,347
Write-ins Various 10
Total valid votes 158,792
Westchester County district attorney general election, 2013[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Janet DiFiore 96,322
Conservative Janet DiFiore 26,346
Working Families Janet DiFiore 6,210
Write-ins Various 324
Total valid votes 129,202

Appointment to the New York Court of Appeals[edit]

Thirty-three people, including DiFiore, applied to succeed Lippman as chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, following Lippman's mandatory retirement at the end of 2015.[12] DiFiore was included as one of seven finalists chosen by the state Commission on Judicial Nomination, led by former chief judge Judith S. Kaye.[12] Other notable finalists included Michael J. Garcia, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,[12] who in 2016 also joined the New York Court of Appeals, having been appointed to fill another vacancy.[13]

On December 1, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated DiFiore to serve as chief judge.[4][5] Following a procedural delay, the New York State Senate unanimously confirmed DiFiore to the position by voice vote on January 21, 2016.[14][15] DiFiore was sworn in by Cuomo at the Court of Appeals building on February 8, 2016.[13]

The chief judge technically serves a fourteen-year term, but the New York State Constitution provides a mandatory retirement age for Court of Appeals justices, and so DiFiore must retire at the end of 2025, the year she will turn 70 years old.[13]

Personal life[edit]

DiFiore is married to Dennis E. Glazer, a retired lawyer.[4] The couple met on the first day of law school, and married on August 15, 1981, at the Westchester Country Club in Rye.[2] She is the mother of three children, Alexandra, Joseph and Michael, now all adults.[2][4] She lives in Bronxville, New York.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jennifer Medina, Rising Legal Star With Deep Local Roots, New York Times (November 18, 2005).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Jonathan Bandler & Richard Liebson, DiFiore: Chief judge nominee 'quiet, assertive', Journal News (December 6, 2015).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Joseph Spector, Cuomo taps Westchester DA DiFiore as chief judge, Journal News (December 1, 2015).
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Jesse McKinley & James C. McKinley Jr., Janet DiFiore, Westchester Prosecutor, Is Nominated as New York's Chief Judge, New York Times (December 1, 2015).
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Joseph De Avila, Westchester D.A. Is Nominated to Be State's Top Judge, Wall Street Journal (December 1, 2015).
  6. ^ Fernanda Santos, Westchester District Attorney Switches Political Parties, New York Times (August 16, 2007).
  7. ^ Jonathan Bandler, Tony Castro to stay in Westchester DA race, Journal News (September 29, 2009).
  8. ^ General election results, 2005, Westchester County, New York, p. 307.
  9. ^ Primary election results, 2009, Westchester County, New York, p. 60.
  10. ^ General election results, 2009, Westchester County, New York, p. 288.
  11. ^ General election results, 2013, Westchester County, New York, p. 474.
  12. ^ a b c Joseph Spector, Janet DiFiore on list of potential N.Y. chief judge candidates, Journal News, (October 16, 2015).
  13. ^ a b c Joseph Spector, NY's top court: DiFiore sworn in; Garcia confirmed, Journal News (February 8, 2016).
  14. ^ Vivian Yeejan, After Delay, Janet DiFiore Is Confirmed as New York’s Chief Judge, New York Times (January 21, 2016).
  15. ^ Jon Campbell, Janet DiFiore becomes NY's top judge, Journal News (January 21, 2016).
Legal offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Lippman
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
2016–present
Incumbent