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It’s a ‘well qualified’ slate for Court of Appeals position

The New York State Bar Association released its ratings for the seven candidates under consideration for associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, and the answer is: They’re all “well qualified.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo must designate his choice by Jan. 21. The nominee then must be confirmed by the state Senate.

The seven candidates were recommended by a state commission to fill the vacancy on the New York State Court of Appeals that followed Judge Susan P. Read’s retirement in August. They include the Hon. Erin M. Peradotto, an associate justice in the Appellate Division’s Fourth Department.

Cuomo is expected to make his nomination from the list, which is Manhattan-dominated and which includes one other associate justice, the Hon. Judith J. Gische of the Appellate Division’s First Department. The other five nominees are attorneys.

All seven were also considered well qualified by the Commission on Judicial Nomination, which selected them from 52 applicants.

Four of the attorneys are in private practice. They are Caitlin J. Halligan (Gibson, Dunne & Crutcher LLP), Rowan D. Wilson (Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP), Michael J. Garcia, the former federal prosecutor in Manhattan (Kirkland & Ellis LLP), and Stephen P. Younger, former president of the New York State Bar Association (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP).

All were recent candidates for chief judge at the Court of Appeals, where Cuomo nominated Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

Benjamin E. Rosenberg, general counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, is the seventh candidate.

According to State Bar guidelines, “qualified” applies to candidates who have demonstrated the necessary qualifications for the office, while “well qualified” is reserved for those who possess pre-eminent qualifications.

The next vacancy on the Court of Appeals will occur Jan. 1, 2017, by which time Associate Judge Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. will have reached mandatory retirement age.