Two SUNY Buffalo Law alumni elevated to Appellate Division judgeships

Hon. Judith J. Gische '80

Published October 2, 2012

Two alumni of SUNY Buffalo Law School have been appointed to serve on the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court, serving at opposite ends of the state in one of the busiest appellate courts in the nation.

Hon. Judith J. Gische, a 1980 graduate of the Law School, was elevated to the appellate court in the First Department, headquartered in New York City. Hon. Gerald Whalen, a 1983 graduate, will join the Appellate Division of the Fourth Department, which meets in Rochester. The appointments, announced Oct. 1 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, were among several appointments made to fill vacancies in the Appellate Division.

Gische has served on the state Supreme Court since her election in 2008 in New York County. She began her judicial career in May 1990 when she was appointed as a judge in the Housing Part, Civil Court of the City of New York. She then was elected a judge of the Civil Court in November 1993, and in 1997 was designated an acting justice of Supreme Court.

Gische began her legal career as a judicial clerk in the Law Department of the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department. She worked in private practice for eight years at Richenthal Abrams & Moss in New York City, a general practice firm concentrating in complex real estate and commercial litigation in state and federal courts.

As a matrimonial judge in Manhattan, Gische presided over several high-profile divorce cases, including that of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his wife, Donna Hanover.

Hon. Gerald Whalen '83

Whalen was elected to state Supreme Court in 2005 in Erie County. Before his election he spent 21 years in private practice, most recently as a partner in the Buffalo office of the law firm Hiscock & Barclay.

Whalen has experience in both criminal and civil litigation. As a sitting judge, he has volunteered for duties in the Medical Negligence Part and also assumed the Cattaraugus County docket after the reassignment of Judge Larry M. Himelien. He has spent time in Special Term on criminal cases and handled post-judgment matrimonial matters to broaden his experience as a jurist.

Makau W. Mutua, SUNY Buffalo Law School dean, sits on the Fourth Department screening committee that made recommendations to Gov. Cuomo on judicial appointments in that department.

The governor has the authority to appoint the presiding justice and associate justices of each Appellate Division from among those who have been elected as justices of the Supreme Court. These appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Also notable among the seven appointments announced by the governor’s office was the choice of Randall T. Eng to serve as presiding justice of the Appellate Division. He will be the first Asian-American to serve in that role.