With Chief Judge Janet DiFiore stepping down from the state’s highest court at the end of this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul will have a second opportunity to appoint a judge to the Court of Appeals.

Judge Shirley Troutman was confirmed as an associate judge on the Court of Appeals in January. In an interview with Capital Tonight, the governor had a message for the Judicial Screening Committee, which, Hochul noted, is comprised of people selected by her predecessor.

The committee is currently collecting applications for the soon-to-be-open position.

“I want to make sure that this committee knows that I’m not having a litmus test related to anyone’s past experiences, whether they’ve been a defense lawyer, a prosecutor or an academic or someone who is a lawyer in the private sector, or a judge. I’m looking for a thoughtful jurist, someone who has independence,” she said.

Hochul also stated that she’s looking to elevate the court’s prestige.

“This is a place where people used to be selecting Supreme Court justices from. I want to get back to that pre-eminence,” she said.

When noted that the Fund for Modern Court is hopeful the new chief judge will also be an able administrator, the governor became animated, saying the entire system needs to be stabilized.

“Absolutely right. We need people within the system, whether it be the chief judge or the chief administrator who works with the chief judge, who has the depth of experience to just stabilize this critical institution known as our court system,” she said.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals designated Associated Judge Anthony Cannataro to serve as acting chief judge after DiFiore steps down.

He will remain in charge in an interim capacity until a new chief judge is nominated by Hochul and confirmed by the state Senate.