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Cuomo picks first woman to lead Third Department

Karen K. Peters

Justice Karen K. Peters was appointed to serve as the presiding justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday.

Justice Peters is the first woman elected a Supreme Court justice in the Third Department and will now be the first woman to serve as a presiding justice in the history of the department.

Justice Peters said she is honored and looks forward to continuing to ensure the state’s justice system protects all residents so that everyone gets treated fairly and is connected to the needs of the state’s communities.

“I am thrilled beyond words at the news of the appointment …” said former Chief Judge Judith Kaye. “These are, of course, enormous shoes to fill, but Justice Peters is an outstanding jurist who has earned the esteem of the legal community and will be a terrific leader in all respects.”

In addition to performing the duties of an Appellate Division justice, which include deciding appeals from trial courts in the 28-county Third Department, Justice Peters will be responsible for serving as the department’s chief administrator.

She will help shape statewide judicial policy as a member of the Administrative Board and act as an ambassador for the court through community and professional outreach. Justice Peters will also oversee the operation of the court’s ancillary agencies, including the Office of Attorneys for Children, the Committee on Professional Standards, the Committee on Character and Fitness and Mental Hygiene Legal Services.

Justice Peters has served on the Appellate Division since 1994. She has also served as a member of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct since 2000. She previously was a justice of the Supreme Court, Third Judicial District from 1991-1992 and served on the Family Court, Ulster County, from 1984-1991.

Prior to serving on the bench, Justice Peters worked for the Assembly as the director of the Standing Committee on Governmental Operations in 1983 and prior to that was counsel to the state Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse from 1979-1983.

Justice Peters also served as a visiting assistant district attorney in Dutchess County in 1979 and in private practice concentrating on criminal defense and family law from 1973 to 1979 at the law firm Peters and Weiner.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The George Washington University in 1969 and her juris doctor from New York University School of Law in 1972.

The governor’s appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.