Drawing on her many years of serving on the bench of the New York State Court of Appeals, the Appellate Division, Third Department and the State Supreme Court, Judge Graffeo leads the firm’s Appellate Practice Group and handles civil appeals in state and federal courts. She also serves as an appellate consultant to domestic and foreign law firms. She is a member of the Business and Commercial Litigation Practice Group and the Government Compliance Practice Group. She acts as a mediator or a neutral arbitrator in private dispute resolution situations and serves as a mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District.
As former Senior Associate Judge on the New York Court of Appeals, Judge Graffeo is frequently engaged to provide expert witness services in connection with contract disputes governed by New York law. In this capacity she prepares reports on New York law to aid arbitrators or courts interpreting New York precedent.
Prior to joining Harris Beach, Judge Graffeo served on the New York Court of Appeals from December 2000 to November 2014. She authored over 250 civil and criminal majority opinions for the Court and she was appointed by the Chief Judge to serve as Chair of several Access to Justice committees. In April 1998, she was designated to serve as an additional Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court in the Third Judicial Department. In September 1996, Judge Graffeo was appointed to fill a justice vacancy on the New York State Supreme Court in the Third Judicial District and was elected to a full term of office commencing January 1, 1997. She presided over jury and nonjury trials, hearings, motion arguments and other proceedings in Albany, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties.
Her judicial appointments included chair of the New York State-Federal Judicial Council, chair of the Advisory Committee on the Pro Bono Scholars Program, co-chair of the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements, chair of the Advisory Committee on Pro Bono Service By In-House Counsel In New York State, Court of Appeals Liaison to the New York State Board of Law Examiners and member of the American Bar Association’s Legal Education and Bar Admission Section.
From January 1995 to September 1996, Judge Graffeo served as Solicitor General and Counsel to the New York State Attorney General. She was involved with the executive and administrative matters of the Office of the Attorney General, with more than 400 attorneys. As head of the Appeals and Opinions Bureau, she was directly responsible for management of the state's federal and state appellate litigation and the rendering of Attorney General Opinions to state agencies and municipalities. Judge Graffeo had responsibility for the review and approval of hundreds of briefs to the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York State Court of Appeals and the Appellate Divisions of the New York State Supreme Court.
Previously, Judge Graffeo had a number of posts in state government from 1982 to 1994. She served as Chief Counsel to the Assembly Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly, Counsel to the Minority Leader Pro Tempore of the New York State Assembly and Assistant Counsel of the New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. She began her legal career as a litigation associate in an Albany law firm.
RECENT PUBLICATIONS + SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
- Lecturer at Appellate Judges’ School for Court of Appeals and Appellate Division jurists, July 2019
- “Then & Now: A Look Back at Trailblazers & Forward- Has Equality for Women Been Achieved?” Keynote at the Judith S. Kaye Program: Conversations on Women & the Law, a CLE co-sponsored by the Historical Society of the New York Courts and the New York City Bar Association’s Women in the Legal Profession Committee, June, 2018
- “Gender Equality in ADR” New York State Bar Association CLE, March 2018
- “Effective Appellate Advocacy- A Judge’s Perspective” New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting, August, 2017
- “CPLR Article 78 Challenges to Administrative Determination,” chapter in Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts, Fourth Edition, published by Thomson Reuters
- “New York’s 50-Hour Pro Bono Requirement,” chapter in Beyond Elite Law: Access to Civil Justice in America published by Cambridge University Press, April 2016
- “Effective Appellate Practice,” New York State Bar Association’s Trial Lawyers Section, July 7, 2015
- Introduction to Attorney Escrow Accounts – Rules, Regulations and Related Topics, Fourth Edition, New York State Bar Association, June 2015