Monday, April 19, 2004
The Hon. Salvatore Martoche is known to a lot of people around here as a political cat-- he was a Reagan appointee in the DOJ back in the day, and when he came back to town he raised a ton of dough to run for Supreme Court (New York's highest trial court)-- a position he won in a walk. Characterizing him as "political", however, sells him a little short. All judges are political, even the ones who appear to have been bodily assumed onto the federal bench. I suppose the reason he isn't on the federal bench is that he preferred to live in Western New York, and there are only so many federal judgeships available here. I don't think he'd have been content as a federal magistrate-- he has always been ambitious, in a way that certainly seems modest-- at least on the surface. Justice Martoche is a much better judge than I think he gets credit or from some people, and now he will be doing his judging from the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. I wouldn't rule out a federal judgeship for him if one were to open up around here, but the more interesting question is what this portends for judicial politics around here-- and state wide. Regular readers of this site know that we are big fans of the Hon. Eugene Pigott, the present Presiding Justice of the Fourth Department. Judge Pigott has twice been passed over for the Court of Appeals (New York's highest court-- what everyone else calls their Supreme Court). What does the appointment of a Republican stalwart like Judge Martoche mean? Does it give the Gov. a guy to move up into the PJ slot when Judge Pigott moves up when the next C of A opening comes up? Does it mean that Judge Martoche is now a candidate for the Court of Appeals? I do not know, and I have no way of knowing. For the time being I am content with the fact that the appellate court where I appear with the greatest frequency is full of judges that I know, and know to be capable and knowledgeable. There are few things more enjoyable in our glamour profession than appearing before a good judge-- but appearing before a panel full of them is one. Our track record with Judge Martoche as a Supreme court Judge has been mixed, but that is as much a reflection of the cases we have had before him as it is of his abilities. Right now I'm thinking that the Fourth Department has got a pretty impressive bench at the moment.