State Supreme Court Justice Gerald J. Whalen's elevation to the Appellate Division in Rochester was announced Monday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
"It's dive in and get to work," Whalen said of his new job.
Court papers from cases the appellate court will hear later this month are already stacked in his Erie County Courthouse chambers. He will move to his new chambers in the City Court building in a day or two.
"The appointment is really wonderful, and I'm looking forward to serving," said Whalen, 55, of the Town of Hamburg.
Whalen, a Democrat, won election to his State Supreme Court seat in November 2005 and began serving in 2006. His current term expires in 2019.
He has handled a range of cases during his time as a trial judge, from matrimonial to malpractice and criminal to civil.
About 400 cases now on his calendar will be dispersed to other judges.
Cuomo thanked his judicial screening committees for presenting him with Whalen and other judges across the state whom Cuomo designated as appellate judges. Whalen was deemed "highly qualified" by the screening committee. "I feel very proud to have gotten through that interview process," he said.
Whalen said he applied for the appellate seat because he wanted to push himself to be the best judge he can be. "I know the Appellate Division will prove a challenging experience for me," he said. "I want to get better at what I'm doing."
Before becoming a judge, Whalen was a partner in the Buffalo office of Hiscock and Barclay, a law firm with offices statewide. He has more than 20 years of trial-lawyer experience.
Whalen comes from a South Buffalo family prominent in public office. His late grandfather, Gerald Whalen, was South District Council member in the 1940s, and his father, Gerald Whalen Jr., served on the Council for 20 years.
Whalen earned an undergraduate degree from Canisius College in 1979 and a law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1983.
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Valentino, who serves in Monroe County, was also named to the appellate court. He got his undergraduate degree from Niagara University in 1968.
With Monday's appointments, one vacancy remains on the Rochester appellate bench.