Governor David Paterson has nominated Justice Jonathan Lippman ’68 to be the next chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
If confirmed by the state senate, Justice Lippman would become the second graduate of the Law School to serve as chief judge, succeeding Judith Kaye ’62, who stepped down last month after reaching mandatory retirement age.
Justice Lippman is currently the presiding justice at the midlevel appeals court in Manhattan. A former state claims court judge, he was chief administrative judge of the court system from 1996 to 2007. He is the longest serving chief administrative judge in the state’s history, working closely with Kaye much of the time.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Kaye told the New York Times. “I think he has a proven quality both on the judicial end and on the administrative end.”
In recognition of his efforts in making New York a model for court reform throughout the country, in November 2008 Justice Lippman received the National Center for State Courts’ William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.
"He knows the court system and administrative structure as well as anyone in the state," Oscar Chase, Russell D. Niles Professor of Law and co-director of the Law School's Dwight D. Opperman Institute of Judicial Administration, told the New York Law Journal. "In terms of administrative responsibilities of the office, Justice Lippman is the next best thing to a continuation of Chief Judge Kaye's tenure."
As the chief judge, in addition to sitting on the state’s highest court, Justice Lippman would also run the entire state court system, which has a budget of more than $2 billion.