A Tribute to the Honorable Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick

By Andrews, Penelope | Albany Law Review, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview
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A Tribute to the Honorable Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick


Andrews, Penelope, Albany Law Review


The end of a remarkable legal career, especially one marked by major changes and challenges, calls both for reflection and celebration. In the case of the Honorable Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, this special recognition is deserved, and timely.

Appointed initially in 1993 to the New York Court of Appeals by Governor Mario Cuomo, father of current Governor Andrew Cuomo, and reappointed in 2007 by Governor Eliot Spitzer, Judge Ciparick's life of service to the law has spanned five decades. Her service on the Court of Appeals ended this past December.

Judge Ciparick served almost twenty years on the New York Court of Appeals. This court of the great State of New York is one of the most distinguished and influential courts in the country, and has produced some of the nation's most outstanding jurists.

Judge Ciparick has received praise as a fine and compassionate jurist, a wonderful colleague, a valuable and thoughtful mentor, a loving mother and wife, and a dancer. These diverse tributes are a testament to her judicial abilities and her overall humanity.

I first met Judge Ciparick a few months ago, soon after my appointment as President and Dean of Albany Law School. I was on a tour of the Court of Appeals hosted by her colleague and Albany Law School alumna, Judge Victoria Graffeo. I was introduced to Judge Ciparick during the tour. Judge Ciparick had a reputation for being engaging, thoughtful, and warm. These qualities of hers were evident during the tour. The judge's presence and participation helped to make the tour memorable.

This issue of the Albany Law Review is dedicated to Judge Ciparick. The several tributes to her service on the Court of Appeals explore the range of legal issues she confronted during her tenure on the court and her contributions to New York jurisprudence in resolving them. Judge Ciparick's retirement perhaps provides a useful opportunity for considering not only her legacy on the bench but also any impact women judges might have on developments in the law and the legal profession. For a variety of reasons, Judge Ciparick's role on the New York Court of Appeals provides an excellent starting point for such an analysis.

As only the second woman appointed to the New York Court of Appeals, Judge Ciparick was a pioneer--for women generally, and women of color particularly. Her retirement thus raises a series of general questions about women on the bench, questions such as the following: Do women judges make a difference, and if so, what is the nature of the core of that difference? Why do so few women serve on New York's higher courts? What are the obstacles to the election, appointment and retention of female judges in New York State? Have women judges in the state generated elements of a jurisprudence that are capable of transforming how courts analyze and resolve concerns that tend generally to afflict women?

These are not small or irrelevant matters. Nor are the answers clear or the problems they reveal easily resolved. Now that women serve on most of the courts in the United States, including on the U.S. Supreme Court, we can expect to see more research directed to these and similar issues.

Judge Ciparick is no stranger to the pages of the Albany Law Review. Through a cursory review, I have come across two articles about the judge. One is by a former student--now a prominent attorney in Albany--John M. Bagyi, in the inaugural issue of our State Constitutional Commentary: Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick: The Court of Appeals' Voice of Compassion. (1)

It is, however, the second article I want to emphasize in these brief remarks. It draws conclusions somewhat related to a point I raise here concerning Judge Ciparick's gender as a member of the Court of Appeals.

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