Home Audio Transcription Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at Court...

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at Court of Appeals Investitures

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Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the Investitures of Madeline Singas, Anthony Cannataro and Shirley Troutman as Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

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AUDIO of the event is available here

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page. 

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below

Thank you. Chief Judge DiFiore.

The last time I sat out here, I was Lieutenant Governor. It was 2016, I believe it was in February, and the occasion was your ascension to this position. And it has been a joy to watch you in action, in the good times and in the challenging times. And your leadership, ensuring that our system of jurisprudence continued during a global pandemic, a 100-year occurrence, was something that the history books are going to talk about in the future. So I want to thank you and the members of the bench, and all the people who had to endure the unthinkable during these trying times to just keep it all together. So thank you, and it is an honor to be invited to participate here today.

I will be mentioning some remarks about our brand new members, what an honor to be with you here today. But I do want to acknowledge that as some of my partners in government as well. Starting with our incredible Attorney General, Letitia James, who just makes all of us so proud, and has a tremendous record of accomplishment, particularly as the lawyer for the people of this great state, Letitia James, thank you for being here today. Our comptroller, Tom DiNapoli: we are going to pay everybody on time this week, we’re going to get the budget done, but we are focused on something known as public safety and we’ll get that through as well. And that has been my objective, but thank you for being such an incredible public servant throughout your life as well. And I do regret that we can’t be joined by Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who may be watching. I know she’s a very strong supporter of Judge Troutman, and also Andrea Stewart-Cousins, but they’re tied up with something down the street as well that I need to return to fairly shortly, but we’ll get that done as well. Also to have the Solicitor General here, someone I’m very proud of, I’ve had a chance to congratulate Barbara Underwood a number of times on her great success in the courtroom, along with our Attorney General. Just in the seven months I’ve been Governor, we have a pretty good record. Keep it going! So thank her also as well.

Always great to see other leaders in State Government, like Senator Tim Kennedy, Senator Sean Ryan, who are here representing Buffalo, in support of Buffalo, Buffalo’s favorite daughter — I guess I’m no longer the favorite daughter. I’ve been replaced here. But all the associates. Mayor Kathy Sheehan, I always have to apologize when people say they’re angry at Albany or “Albany did this”, we’re not talking about you, Mayor. The city is great. We love the city and again, to have you house the most significant court of all in the nation, maybe outside of Washington, DC, is a huge point of pride for you. I know you speak of this often. 

All the associate judges, presiding judges, and of course the families. The families who have been on the journey with their loved ones a long time, especially the children who had perhaps many nights and weekends, where a parent was working long hours. Please don’t write a book about that. I’m hoping my kids don’t write a book about that, but their intentions are well-placed and they are true public servants in every sense of the word. So the families for their sacrifices. 

I sit here from a number of perspectives. One is as governor, and to have the extraordinary privilege of fulfilling one of my responsibilities, which is an appointment to the Court of Appeals. Something I took very seriously, something that came up fairly early in my tenure as a new governor, and something I’m very proud to be able to be participating in investiture for one of those individuals, as well as two other colleagues who were denied this wonderful celebration because of COVID, but have been serving with great distinction, since last year.

So I come at it from looking at my responsibility as a governor, also as a lawyer, as someone who has tremendous respect for the law, reverence for the law, the Constitution and our responsibilities. The Chief Judge mentioned I’ve served every level of government; I haven’t been a judge yet, but I think I’m good. I think I’m good. But also as a woman and a granddaughter of immigrants, because two of our judges are also first-generation immigrants, something I know that they’re very proud of as well. As well as the ascension of two more women to the Bench, which is something that is a part of our desire to increase the diversity and the representation to make it more reflective of our state. And that has been accomplished with the incredible individuals we have here today. 

So we think, you sit here and you think about all these pictures on the wall, and it is a little intimidating. They all kind of dress the same. They all look a little bit alike, but we’re starting, we’re starting to change that dynamic. And that is very powerful and I’m proud of that. And it started before my time, and I’m going to continue that as well. 

Because this has been a source of pride for all of us as New Yorkers for the last 175 years. The foundation of this building, it was laid by one of my predecessors, John Jay, who ascended to become the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, as well as one of our Founding Fathers, and he took an easy job as he was approaching retirement and became the second Governor of New York. So he’s certainly a reminder of the great legacy that this foundation has been built on. And those are the faces of the past to remind us of the awesome responsibility and what has happened in this very courtroom throughout the history of our state. And it’s a huge point of pride for us. So we see these portraits on the wall. 

We also hear the echoes of landmark cases that are decided right here in our state. That set the tone for others. Because we know that New York State has a proud legacy of being the birthplace of many significant movements. The Women’s Rights Movement started here. NAACP started in a place not far from Buffalo. Also the Civil Rights movement really had an important genesis in our state. The LGBTQ movement, Stonewall: such an important part of our story. The labor movement, the environmental justice movement, all these movements start in communities and people who’ve been oppressed who said enough is enough.

And often those grievances can be addressed by legislatures, but then there’s challenges. And many of our great movements forward have been challenged. And how are those disputes resolved? Where are they resolved? They’re resolved in places like this, to continue – that the progress made by other individuals are withheld and upheld for generations to come. That is the significance of this court. And I want to say, one of the responsibilities is the administration of the oath of office to our constitution, to our nation and to our state. Every word of that oath has significance and consequence and is something that every person here lives by every single day.

And I want to think about the remarks of Thurgood Marshall. When you think about the true genius of our founding fathers, they set up institutions that ensured our continued growth and expansion and creativity, and new ideas. And the genius was leaving the final say to the courts, not to the masses, but to take the tone of the time and what has happened in the past precedent and to shape that into forward looking decisions.

So the process, according to Thurgood Marshall, the process of democracy, is one of change. Our laws are not frozen into immutable form. They’re constantly in the process of revision and response to the needs of a changing society. We have seen our society change dramatically. And to know that the firewall from the diminishing of those rights that have been so long and hard fought for is right here. The responsibly of that protection lies in this court. So remain true the constitution while interpreting the law in a way that responds to our needs. That’s why it’s important we have the breadth of experience and diversity of the state represented here.

That is the significance of what we’re doing here today. And I’m very proud to have brilliant legal minds that have been selected and recommended from our great screening committee. And I applaud their efforts. I know it’s a responsibility they take very seriously. But it’s important for us to have individuals who’ve had different backgrounds, who come forth with the experiences of their communities, their background, their education, their professional experience, and it all comes together in a beautiful mixture of brilliant people all set forth on the same purpose to do right under the law. And that is a weighty responsibility.

So we are also looking at the opportunity to increase that diversity. As I mentioned, two first-generation Americans, two women, and the second African-American woman ever nominated to the court of appeals. And I want to mention a number of them by name now because I’m so proud of their accomplishments.

Judge Madeline Singas. She has served the people of this state admirably, across her time at the district attorney’s offices. She was District Attorney at Nassau County. She was a special prosecutor, special Deputy Attorney General to investigate crimes. She worked in very difficult areas of the law when you’re dealing in the cases of special victims and domestic violence cases. These are heart-wrenching cases. These are families that have been ripped apart and it takes a special kind of person, a special disposition, a passion, to do justice for these individuals, for someone to be drawn to this. And certainly Judge Singas has been a steward in this, in what she has done to champion the rights of these individuals. JD from Fordham Law School, political science from Barnard College at Columbia University.

She’s also, and this is what I wanted to mention, the daughter of Greek immigrants. And she often had to serve as a translator for her parents. She had to become their voice, and that’s incredible. And she said that she was motivated by having to be a voice for her parents and their family to be a voice for others in public service. I think that’s beautiful. And now she’ll have a voice for all New Yorkers here on the highest court. So I want to congratulate you on your position as well. 

Judge Anthony Cannataro, again, another dedicated public servant who brings incredible experience in both civil and family courts, recently served as the Administrative Judge of the Civil Court in the City of New York, elected to the State Supreme court, served a civil term for New York, also served as a Supervising Judge in the Civil Court, Acting-Supreme Court judge. I don’t think I have enough room for all those, Judge, this is incredible. A judge in the Civil Court in Bronx County, and before that you served as a judge in the family court in Kings County, as well as serving for a very distinguished clerk here, as we know, Judge Beauchamp Ciparick, from this court as well.

So you certainly know your place around, this is not new to you, but also to bring your talents and again, your life’s experience as again, a first-generation American, son of Italian immigrants, who represent 15% of our population. And so, the perspective of people coming here and the struggles that new Americans have is something that brings you the certain perspective that you offer all of us in the court. And it’s a special day for you and your spouse, Peter, as well. Your husband’s here as well? Okay, Theo’s here. So this is all about families too. 

And finally, to Judge Troutman who I’ve had the honor of appointing as my very first appointment to the court of appeals. This is particularly special because I’ve known her for over 30 years. She grew up in my hometown of Buffalo. Went to Buffalo public schools, graduated from the University of Buffalo. University of Albany, received her law degree. She taught at the law school, a remarkable career in the Assistant District Attorney’s office, Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office, Trial Court Judge, Acting Supreme Court Justice, and elected to the Supreme Court in 2009. And she also is steeled in the knowledge of people who’ve been oppressed, knowing that her own parents had escaped a very segregated south, came up from Georgia, so their own children could have an opportunity for a better education. And truly, because of your accomplishments and what your parents brought to your family. This opportunity to live a very different life in a place like New York. 

You are now a model. All of you are models for other people and little girls out there who can look at this bench and say, I can do that too. So to both of you, delighted to see the ascension of two women in this court. 

And I cannot say this without being reminded of what’s going on not far from here – in Washington, DC. And the struggle that is going on right now for what should be an automatic ascension with full support of the Senate, the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson. And I say this with hesitation because it’s really hard to see what she’s going through and see the hatred that is coming her way and how she has to sit there and endure it. And to see how she’s just a pure, brilliant jurist trying to do her job. And she’s going to add a voice and perspective to the court that no one has ever seen before. But now we have people because of her credentials and her decisions being criticized with dog whistles and right-wing topics of the day. And I believe that has actually strengthened her case for confirmation because it reminds everybody why we need her on that bench, why we need her now more than ever to shut down that negativity and show it can be done. 

So there is a parallel battle going on. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen here, but to see the ascension of her nomination going forward and hopefully resolved in the next couple of days is also a reminder that change is sometimes hard to accomplish. And there is resistance and that is what this court has to continue to stand up against, because that kind of discrimination is very much alive and well in our society, as much as it’s hard to recognize that.

So, I thank everyone for this high honor, this has been a privilege. I appreciate you affording me the time to just say how proud I am of these three incredible jurists who, when you think about all the things that a judge can accomplish, these are legacy decisions, and a governor’s responsibility to name these individuals.

Their work will live and endure long beyond the tenure of any governor. And that is why this is such a significant day for me, for this court and for the people in the State of New York. 

So congratulations to all of you.



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