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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced 12 appointments to the New York State Court of Claims. This historic class of appointments is comprised of highly qualified individuals from a wide array of personal and professional backgrounds, including three first generation Americans, that will bring diverse and expert perspective to the Court.

“I am confident that each of these exceptional appointments will serve our state with honor and distinction,” Governor Hochul said. “The diversity of perspective and long tenure of expertise each appointee will bring with them to the bench should leave no doubt in the mind of every New Yorker that they have an expert, fair, and impartial voice in our state’s judiciary.”

Michael Siragusa, Erie County

Michael Siragusa is currently the Erie County Attorney, a position he has held since 2012. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Attorney General and then as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in-Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office through December 31, 2011.

Betty Calvo-Torres, Erie County

Since 2007, Calvo-Torres has been a Buffalo City Court Judge and is the first Hispanic female judge in the city’s history. From 2010-2012, she was the Presiding Domestic Violence Court Judge in the County Court. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the Buffalo University School of Law since 2016. She is also a member of the Buffalo Hispanic Women’s League.

Stephanie Saunders, Erie County

Stephanie Saunders is currently the Principal Law Clerk to Hon. E. Jeannette Ogden, a position she has held since 2016. Prior to that, she was the Assistant Legal Counsel to the Buffalo Board of Education. From 2006-2014, she was the Director of Medical Affairs at Kaleida Health. Saunders is the President of the Minority Bar Foundation of Western New York, which works to ensure continued minority representation in the legal profession.

Stephen Thomas Miller, Monroe County

Stephen Miller is currently Rochester City Court Judge, a position he has held since 2006. He was a Monroe County Assistant District Attorney from 1998-2005. Miller is the honored recipient of the Rochester Black Bar Association’s Bridge Builder Award.

Zainab Chaudhry, Albany County

Zainab Chaudhry is currently the Principal Court Attorney in the New York State Court of Appeals, a position she has held since 2019. Prior to her work in the Court of Appeals, she was the Assistant Solicitor General for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, Appeals & Opinions Bureau. Chaudhry’s parents are from Pakistan and she is a first generation American. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association of New York.

Anthony Brindisi, Oneida County

Anthony Brindisi is currently an attorney at Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi and Pearlman, LLP, a position he has held since 2021. Prior to going into private practice, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2019-2021 and served on the Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Armed Services Committee. He was in the New York State Assembly from 2011-2018.

Tim Lewis, Westchester County

Tim Lewis is a Town Attorney of Greenburg, New York and was former Deputy Town Attorney in 2004. Lewis was in private practice from 1992 to 2004. He also worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County.

Anar Patel, Westchester County

Anar Patel is currently counsel at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP, a position she has held since 2020. Prior to being elevated to Counsel, she was a Litigation Associate from 2010-2011, and again from 2013-2019. She was a Law Clerk to Hon. William Kuntz II from 2011-2013. She was also an Adjunct Professor for Legal Practice Workshop at Columbia Law School. Patel’s parents are from India and Uganda and she is a first generation American. She is married with three children.

Joanne Quinones, Kings County

Quinones has been the Acting Justice of the Supreme Court – Kings County since 2017, Judge of the Kings County Criminal Court since 2011, and was the Interim Judge of the Civil Court assigned to the Criminal Court, Supreme Court, Kings County in 2010. From 2009-2010, she was the Principal Court Attorney to Hon. Matthew Cooper, Supreme Court, New York County-Matrimonial. Quinones is the President of the Latino Judges Association.

Javier Enrique Vargas, New York County

Javier Enrique Vargas is currently a Family Court Judge in Kings County, and has been since 2015. Prior to this, Vargas was a Judge in New York Civil Court as a Housing Part. Before joining the bench, Vargas was Chief Court Attorney for the First Department of the Appellate Division. Vargas was selected as the 2017 Latino Judge of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Sarika Kapoor, Nassau County

Sarika Kapoor is currently an Associate Court Attorney at the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County Law Department, a position she has held since 2011. Prior to that, she was a Senior Court Attorney from 2009-2011 and Court Attorney from 2004-2009. She has also been the Small Claims Tax Assessment Review Hearing Officer in the Supreme Court, Tenth Judicial District since 2005, appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of Nassau County. In addition to Hearing Officer, she is also the special Election Referee for the Supreme Court, appointed by the Nassau County Administrative Judge, Thomas Adams, a position she has held since 2015. Kapoor’s parents are from India, she is a first generation American, and she will be the first little person appointed to the court.

Maureen HeitnerKings County

Maureen Heitner is employed by the New York State Supreme Court in Queens County as a Principal Law Clerk / Court Clerk. Heitner is the treasurer at the The Network of Bar leaders, which is a coalition of over 50 bar associations in the Greater New York Metropolitan AreaHeitner is registered attorney in the State of New York.

The New York State Court of Claims is the exclusive forum for civil litigation seeking damages against the State of New York or certain other State-related entities such as the New York State Thruway Authority, the City University of New York, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corporation and the New York State Power Authority (claims for the appropriation of real property only).

The Court of Claims has no jurisdiction over any city, county or town government, or over any individual defendant.