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December 2, 2015- by Steven E. Greer
Few people truly comprehend the ramifications of the conviction of Sheldon Silver, the former New York Assembly Speaker for the last 40 years. In his position, he pulled the puppet strings of almost every division of city and state government, by appointing judges, allocating research grants to doctors, choosing board members to public authorities, controlling the overall budget, etc.
When Silver was first arrested in January of this year, one of the first consequences was that senior judges he had empowered in the New York Supreme Court were shown the door. Weitz & Luxenberg, the personal injury law firm where Silver also worked while being a New York legislator, specialized in asbestos mesothelioma cases. Silver had arranged to have what was essentially his own personal court, presided over by Judge Heitler, to give special treatment to his law firm’s cases. Judge Heitler was fired in March.
The senior most judge of the court, Jonathan Lippman, will be retiring at the end of this month as the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. State law mandates that judges retire when they turn 70, as he has. Normally, Sheldon Silver would have had a strong role in selecting the new judge. In his absence, Governor Cuomo chose the Westchester County DA, Janet DiFiore.