Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick: A Glimpse into the Senior Associate Judge's Judicial Philosophy through Her Dissents

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick: A Glimpse into the Senior Associate Judge's Judicial Philosophy through Her Dissents

Article excerpt


A study of New York State Court of Appeals Senior Associate Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick's dissents unveils a liberal jurist who supports "claims of civil rights, liberties, equal protection, government-provided assistance or protections, [and] rights of the criminally accused." (1) Although the extent and degree of her liberal favor has evolved during the course of her sixteen-year tenure on the bench, (2) Ciparick is still perhaps the most liberal judge voting on the Court today. Her voting pattern, opinions, dissents, and public statements indicate that she views the judiciary as a necessary protector of these rights; these sentiments are memorialized in her rulings on issues concerning constitutional infringement by the executive (3) and the legislature, (4) institutional mechanisms such as arbitration, (5) police power, (6) and criminal prosecution. (7)

The purpose of this article is to provide a window into the judicial philosophy and principles that drive Ciparick's jurisprudence on New York State's highest bench. This comment will begin with a contextual background pertinent to understanding Ciparick's judicial ideology, including a discussion on notable jurisprudence that distinguished Ciparick early in her judicial career. The discussion will then progress to an analysis of Ciparick's voting patterns, focusing specifically on Ciparick's dissents as a primary indicator of judicial philosophy and principles.


Ciparick is the daughter of two Puerto Rican immigrants. (8) She was born in New York City on January 1, 1942, and grew up in Washington Heights. (9) For her undergraduate degree, she attended Hunter College of the City University of New York. (10) Ciparick subsequently worked as a teacher during the day while attending law school at St. John's University School of Law in the evenings. (11) She received her J.D. degree in 1967 and immediately began work at the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx. (12) Thereafter, Ciparick was employed in a number of positions in judicial administration, first serving as assistant counsel for the Judicial Conference of the State of New York and then as chief law assistant of the New York City Criminal Court, (13) after which she served as counsel in the Office of the New York City Administrative Judge under Judge David Ross. (14) In 1978, Ciparick was appointed by Mayor Edward Koch (15) to serve as a judge of the New York City Criminal Court, where she held the position for four years. (16) She was then elected to the state supreme court in 1982, where she stayed until her appointment by Governor Mario M. Cuomo to the New York State Court of Appeals in 1993 and subsequent confirmation by the state senate in 1994. (17) Upon commencement of her tenure, Ciparick would hold two diverse distinctions: as the first Hispanic and the second woman to serve as a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals. (18)


By the time of her nomination to the Court of Appeals, Ciparick had earned a reputation for being "fearless," "personable," (19) and "independent." (20) Ciparick gained favorable public attention for her diplomacy while presiding over Mercury Bay Boating Club, Inc. v. San Diego Yacht Club. (21) The case involved a dispute over whether the American sailing team had violated the rules of the prestigious America's Cup when it used a catamaran in the competition; (22) the dispute was heated and produced "patriotic outbursts across the country." (23) Ciparick ultimately ruled against the American team while appeasing impassioned spectators in the courtroom. (24) Her diplomacy was described as "completely in character," (25) and she was widely regarded as possessing a temperament commensurate with appellate-level jurisprudence. (26) Although her ruling would be overturned by the state's highest court, (27) Ciparick became known for her "[g]race under [p]ressure" while "going out on a limb on an issue in which she strongly believe[d]. …

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