New York’s Court Crisis

By Diana Filkins, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

Even though Governor Andrew Cuomo was able to triumphantly announce the rare, on-time passage of New York’s 2011-2012 state budget, not all parties were happy.  The New York State Unified Court System, for example, took a cut of $170 million dollars.[1]  Immediately after   the budget passed, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman portended that the budget cuts would lead to hundreds of layoffs.[2]  As of April 20, 2011, the beginnings of this prediction came true as 74 employees of the Office of Court Administration were given notice that they would be laid off.[3]  This included two attorneys and is the “court system’s first layoffs since 1991.”  Up to 500 more are expected to lose their jobs.[4]  Further, the system is already running with less employees than usual, due to an early retirement incentive which led to the retirement of 1,700 court personnel.[5]  While the court intended to fill many of these positions, the budget cuts may not allow this to happen.[6]  In an already overburdened court system, how will the budget cuts and layoffs affect the administration of justice? Continue reading “New York’s Court Crisis”

Why Former Chief Judge Kaye “Couldn’t Be Happier”

Marisa C. Floriani, Staff Writer

Now that Chief Judge Judith Kaye has retired from the New York Court of Appeals bench, yesterday it was time for her replacement to literally take her seat.  Just last month New York State Governor David A. Paterson nominated Justice Jonathan Lippman as the newest addition to the state’s highest court.1 “I am thrilled to choose Judge Lippman to serve as our next chief judge . . .” Governor Paterson is quoted saying in The New York Times.2 Governor Paterson’s only criticism, however, is of the nomination process itself because he wants to ensure “that those under consideration represent all New Yorkers.”3 But who is to say that Justice Lippman won’t do just that?

Justice Lippman has always called New York his home.  A native of Manhattan, Justice Lippman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from New York University with a degree in Government and International Relations in 1965.4 He continued his education at New York University’s School of Law where he received his J.D. in 1968.5

Although Justice Lippman never served on the Court of Appeals bench before, he devoted his legal career to several judicial positions.  Justice Lippman started at an entry level position in the court system, and he has not left the court house since.6 In 1983, he was appointed Chief Clerk and Executive Officer of the Supreme Court in the New York County Civil branch.7 From 1989 to 1995, Lippman was Deputy Chief Administrator for Management of New York State Courts.8 Then, he was a Judge of New York State Court of Claims.9 In January 1996, Chief Judge Kaye appointed him Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Court system.10 In that position he oversaw the statewide court system with a $2 billion budget, over 3,000 judges, and 15,000 non-judicial employees.11 By serving from January 1996 to May 2007, Justice Lippman was the longest serving Chief Administrative Judge.12 In May 2007, former Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Justice Lippman as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division in the First Department, a position he served in until his recent nomination.13 Continue reading “Why Former Chief Judge Kaye “Couldn’t Be Happier””