Richard C. Wesley was born to Charles and Beatrice Wesley on August 1, 1949 in Canandaigua, New York. He grew up in Hemlock, a hamlet in the town of Livonia, New York, in a house built by his father and uncles.
Wesley attended Livonia Central School, where he played football (he was the team captain his senior year), basketball, and baseball. He also sang in the All-State chorus. After high school, Wesley attended the State University of New York at Albany, graduating in 1971
summa cum laude, with a B.A. degree. He then attended the Cornell Law School, where he was on the Cornell Law Review. Upon his graduation in 1974, he worked as an associate at the firm of Harris, Beach & Wilcox. He left to join Welch, Streb, and Porter, where he became a name partner in 1977.
In 1982, he was elected to the New York State Assembly for the 136th Assembly District. He was reelected in 1984 without opposition.
After four years in the legislature, Wesley was elected to a 14- year term as a justice of the New York Supreme Court in 1986. In January 1991, Wesley was appointed by the chief administrator of the courts to serve as the supervising judge of the criminal courts in the Seventh Judicial District, which covers Monroe, Wayne, Livingston, Ontario, Seneca, Cayuga, Steuben, and Yates counties. In this capacity, Judge Wesley supervised the operation of over 280 criminal courts. On March 25, 1994, Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Judge Wesley to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the State of New York for the Fourth Department, which hears appeals of trial decisions from central and western New York. On December 3, 1996, Governor George Pataki nominated Judge Wesley to the New York State Court of Appeals. Judge Wesley was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the New York State Senate on January 14, 1997. On March 5, 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Judge Wesley to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; the Senate unanimously confirmed him on June 11, 2003, and on June 12, 2003, President Bush signed his commission. Judge Wesley currently serves on the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.
In 1978, Wesley married Kathryn Rice, who hails from Auburn, New York. He and Kathy raised their two children, Sarah and Matthew, in Livonia, just a few miles from the house where Wesley grew up. Both of the Wesley children followed their father’s path to the law. After graduating from Cornell, Sarah attended the University of Buffalo Law School, graduating in 2006. She served as an associate at White & Case LLP and an assistant district attorney in the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and now practices criminal defense law at the firm of Wesley, Clark & Bates LLP in Rochester, New York. Matthew received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell. He served as an associate in Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York City office, and now works as a transactional attorney at Coller Capital, a private equity firm in New York City.
For many years, Judge Wesley was a dedicated recreational runner. He ran two marathons: the Wineglass, finishing at a respectable 3:52:39, and the Chicago, finishing at an impressive 3:39:30. Various ailments have limited him to a five-mile walk each morning.
Judge Wesley remains an active participant in his hometown community. For seven years, he drove the Livonia volunteer ambulance. He has been a board member of the Trustees of the United Church of Livonia, Chances and Changes (a community- based organization in Livingston County that provides safe housing to battered women), the Charles Settlement House, the Center for Dispute Resolution, and the Pre-Trial Service Corporation. Judge Wesley currently serves on the board of the Myers’ Foundation, the Cornell Law School Advisory Council, and the Cornell University Council. Judge Wesley is also a fellow of the New York Bar Foundation. In 1997, Judge Wesley was awarded the Distinguished SUNY Alumni Award by the SUNY Alumni Association. In 1999, Judge Wesley was named a Distinguished Alumni of SUNY at Albany. Judge Wesley is also active in a number of local youth sports programs. Although he has been on the bench for 30 years, in Livonia he is known as Dick Wesley.