Justice M. Dolores Denman, who is battling cancer, is stepping down as presiding justice of the state's Rochester-based Fourth Department Appellate Court, court sources confirmed Tuesday.
Justice Samuel L. Green, senior associate judge on the 10-judge Rochester appellate court, will serve as its presiding judge until Gov. George E. Pataki names a successor, sources said.
Denman was unavailable to comment Tuesday. She reportedly left for Florida today with her husband, attorney James B. Denman.
Sources said the judge announced her impending resignation from the bench Tuesday during a luncheon she hosted for all nine of her fellow appellate judges in her chambers on the 10th floor of the Buffalo City Court Building at 50 Delaware Ave.
According to sources, Denman
told her colleagues that she submitted her retirement papers to state officials about a week ago and will officially retire late next month.
Denman's Buffalo staff declined to comment, and Justice Vincent E. Doyle, administrative judge of the state's eight-county Eighth Judicial District, insisted Denman has yet to tell him of her plans.
For months Denman, who is in her late 60s, has been receiving periodic hospital treatments for cancer. Her condition reportedly has worsened in recent weeks.
In 1977, Denman and retiring State Supreme Court Justice Ann T. Mikoll made history when then-Gov. Hugh Carey appointed them the first women associate justices for the state's midlevel Appellate Division.
Denman made history again in 1991 when she became the first woman named a presiding justice of a state appellate court.
A 1965 graduate of the University at Buffalo Law School, she served as a Buffalo City Court judge for nearly five years and previously was a top prosecutor in the Erie County district attorney's office.
Two years ago she was honored by the New York State Bar Association for distinction on the bench. Earlier this year, she was inducted into the Western New York Women's Hall of Fame.