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NYC Mayor Announces 14 Judicial Appointments and Reappointments

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced 14 judicial appointments and reappointments to Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court. Specifically, Mayor Adams appointed two Family Court judges and three Criminal Court judges, and reappointed two Family Court judges, six Criminal Court judges, and one interim Civil Court judge.

“Public safety and justice are the prerequisites to prosperity, and the judges I’m appointing and reappointing today are deeply committed to both,” said Mayor Adams. “Ensuring that our courts have the judges they need to operate smoothly, efficiently, and effectively will help us continue to reverse the bottlenecks that resulted from the pandemic and that has delayed justice for too many. We are grateful for their continued service as we build a city that is more just and equitable for all.”

“A capable judiciary is crucial to providing fair and efficient justice for New Yorkers,” said City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg. “We are grateful to this impressive group of judges for their continued dedication to serving the city.”

Mayor Adams appointed the following judges to Family Court:

Judge Cynthia Lopez was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in June 2021 and has been serving in Family Court since then. Judge Lopez began her legal career with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services as an agency attorney. She went on to hold various titles, including but not limited to assistant supervising attorney of Queens Family Court Legal Services and supervising attorney of Manhattan and Staten Island Family Court Legal Services. Prior to her appointment to the bench in 2021, she served as borough chief of the Brooklyn Family Court Legal Services. 

Judge Marjorie Steinberg was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in April 2023 and has been serving in Family Court since then. Judge Steinberg initially worked at a private firm as an associate attorney with a focus on custody, visitation, domestic violence, matrimonial, guardianship, and neglect litigation. She then served with The Children’s Law Center as a staff attorney and subsequently as deputy director. Judge Steinberg then joined the New York State Unified Court System and was first assigned to the Richmond County Supreme Court as a court attorney in the Integrated Domestic Violence Part, then as principal court attorney in the All-Purpose Matrimonial Part. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Steinberg served as a support magistrate in Richmond County Family Court.

Mayor Adams appointed the following judges to Criminal Court:

Judge Anthony Battisti was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in December 2021 and has been serving in Criminal Court since then. He was a former Queens County assistant district attorney with assignments to the Intake, Criminal Court, Grand Jury, and Supreme Court Bureaus. After several years, he entered a law partnership which he eventually left to start his own practice. Prior to his appointment, Judge Battisti was a private practitioner in Queens for 27 years, specializing in criminal defense and residential real estate. 

Judge Diego Freire was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in December 2021 and has been serving in Criminal Court since then. Judge Freire began his legal career with The Legal Aid Society, Queens County Criminal Defense Practice in 2007. Prior to his appointment to the bench in 2021, he was a senior staff attorney holding the dual title of adolescent intervention and diversion attorney.

Judge Craig Ortner was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in February 2023 and has been serving in Criminal Court since then. Judge Ortner was a former associate with Proskauer Rose LLP before leaving to clerk with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida. He then returned to New York and served with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for over 19 years, holding various titles, including criminal court supervisor in Trial Bureau 80 and deputy bureau chief in Trial Bureau 60.

Mayor Adams reappointed the following judges to Family Court:

Judge Ben Darvil was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in March 2016 and then appointed to Family Court in April 2017. Judge Darvil was a former staff attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Family Court Legal Services. He litigated child abuse and neglect cases in New York County Family Court. He went on to serve in the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, as an appellate court attorney. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable John M. Leventhal (Ret.).

Judge Emily Ruben was appointed to the Family Court in June 2015. She began her legal career as a law clerk to New York County Supreme Court Justice Elliot Wilk. Thereafter, she was an associate with a boutique matrimonial firm and a private firm focusing on matrimonial law and trusts and estates. She was formerly with The Legal Aid Society, Civil Division, and prior to her appointment to the bench, she concurrently held the titles of supervising attorney of the Citywide Family Law Unit, co-supervisor of the Domestic Violence Project, and attorney-in-charge of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Office.

Mayor Adams reappointed the following judges to Criminal Court:

Judge Mary Bejarano was first appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in May 2017 and then appointed to the Criminal Court in January 2018. She was a former Queens County assistant district attorney and malpractice defense attorney for two private firms. She went on to operate and maintain her own solo practice for over six years before joining the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in the Civil Litigation Unit up until her appointment to the bench.

Judge Kathryn Paek has been a Criminal Court judge since February 2015. Judge Paek began her legal career with The Legal Aid Society in Nassau County and briefly practiced as an associate with a private firm. Thereafter, she was a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society, Kings County in the Criminal Defense Division and Immigration Unit. Judge Paek was also a former principal court attorney to a Kings County Supreme Court justice. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she was chief-of-staff to the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Policy and Planning.

Judge Archana Rao has presided in Criminal Court since January 2019. Judge Rao spent the entirety of her legal career at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she served as an assistant district attorney in Trial Bureau 30 and in the Financial Frauds Bureau (formerly known as the Special Prosecutions Bureau). She served as deputy bureau chief, principal deputy chief, and, prior to her appointment to the bench, bureau chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau.

Judge Steven Statsinger was appointed Criminal Court judge in January 2013. Judge Statsinger formerly served with The Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau before moving onto the Federal Defender Division, Appeals Bureau. He then joined the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., Southern District of New York as a supervisor and training director before his appointment to the bench.

Judge Laura Ward has presided in Criminal Court since May 1997. Judge Ward currently serves as an acting Supreme Court justice. Judge Ward began her legal career with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as a litigation associate before joining the Organized Crime Strike Force with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York as a special attorney. She also briefly served as assistant attorney general-in-charge of the Bureau of Investor Protection and Security at the New York Office of the Attorney General before returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to serve as an assistant United States attorney before her appointment to the bench.

Judge Joanne Watters was appointed as a Criminal Court judge in December 2015. Judge Watters currently serves as supervising judge in Criminal Court, Queens County. She was a former prosecutor with the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office before joining a private firm as an associate attorney. Judge Watters then became an assistant department advocate for the Department Advocate’s Office before joining the New York State Unified Court System, where she last served as supervising court attorney in Kings County Criminal Court.

Mayor Adams reappointed the following judge to Civil Court:

Judge Grace Oboma-Layat was appointed as an interim Civil Court judge in April 2023 and has been serving in Family Court since then. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Oboma-Layat was a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice for 19 years. Her focus was child protective, termination of parental rights, and custody and visitation proceedings.

New York NY January 23, 2024

Source: NYC.gov – Midtown Tribune news
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