ALBANY, N.Y. — The first openly gay member of New York state’s highest court has been formally sworn in.

Judge Paul Feinman formally took his place on the Court of Appeals following a ceremony Wednesday in Albany.

Feinman has been a judge for more than 20 years. He fills a vacancy created by the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was found dead in the Hudson River near her Manhattan home in April.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Feinman and has called him a “trailblazer” whose career has been dedicated to the causes of justice and fairness.

During his nomination in the state Senate lawmakers from both parties hailed Feinman’s experience and called him an excellent addition to the Court of Appeals.