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State Supreme Court Appellate Justice Salvatore R. Martoche, one of Western New York’s best-known jurists, will retire from the bench this week to join the Hodgson Russ law firm.

Martoche, 72, said that although state regulations allow him to remain a judge until 2016, he decided to leave now and accept the offer of Hodgson Russ, where he will start Tuesday.

“Although it was, for many reasons, a difficult decision, I have concluded that now is the time for me to take up other aspects of this much-loved profession, the practice of law,” Martoche said Tuesday. “I’m ready for a new adventure.”

Martoche’s decision to leave will not create a vacancy to be filled by voters this year, though it will present an opportunity for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to appoint a successor to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. A second vacancy created by the 2012 retirement of former Justice Jerome C. Gorski also exists.

A former assistant secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush from 1988 to 1990, Martoche oversaw all law enforcement operations in the department. Prior to that, he served as an assistant secretary of labor under Reagan, dealing with the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s.

Earlier in his career, Martoche was U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York and served as one of the six members of the New York State Commission of Investigation, investigating organized crime and public corruption statewide. He also was a public defender in Buffalo and had a private law practice for more than 20 years.

Martoche is also connected with significant reforms in the Federal Witness Protection Program and may be best known as the basis for one of the main characters in the 1980 movie “Hide in Plain Sight.”

The judge now joins a new national Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group at Hodgson Russ. With extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution at the federal, state and local levels in addition to his 13 years as a State Supreme Court justice, he will now lead the new group, according to Hodgson Russ Chairman Daniel C. Oliverio.

“Sal’s illustrious background, including his work on both criminal and regulatory federal investigations, his extensive experience with complex cases involving the banking and financial services industries, and his national-level mediation and arbitration experience,” Oliverio said, “will prove invaluable for certain clients and will be an extraordinary addition to our full-service law firm.”

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com