Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Introduction of the Panelists

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Introduction of the Panelists

Article excerpt

PROFESSOR MICHAEL J. HUTTER: Good afternoon. I have the distinct pleasure of introducing the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, known initially as the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, but he actually wears a second hat. He is also the Chief Judge of the State of New York, which means not only is he administering one of the leading state courts, the Court of Appeals, but also the entire structure of the New York Court System, probably the most byzantine court structure in the country. But I believe in a couple of years, it may not be so under his leadership.

With most lawyers and other judges when you mention Judge Lippman they will instinctively think of his administrative role and opine that in that role he has been terrific. And administratively he has accomplished many remarkable matters through his career.

Before his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he was the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York for thirteen years, and in that position he was the go-to person for all the problems of the courts. Thirteen years in a position that generally would spit out the occupier after a year or two because of the burn out. But he continued mainly because no one wanted him to leave, he was doing such a great job. When he became a state supreme court judge, he was elevated to the Appellate Division, First Department, as the Presiding Justice. He then took over probably one of busiest appellate courts, not just in the State of New York, but in the country, managing at that point fifteen, sixteen judges at the same time, and again bringing remarkable changes to that court. In his three years now as the Chief Judge of the State of New York, he's continuing that change.

Through the years, his administrative accomplishments are long. Any time there were issues with the jury system, he took them on and resolved them. He then tackled the most burning issue that was devastating the New York Judiciary, judicial compensation. And he went a long way in getting, finally, significant resolution of that vexing issue. He has been on the forefront with respect to domestic violence matters, taking care of the foreclosure problems plaguing our state courts, and most importantly, his creation of a task force to expand access to civil legal services to ensure that the wonderful New York Court System is available to everyone, not just someone who has the money to hire an attorney.

His administrative experience is absolutely spectacular. But you do not see the real measure of Judge Lippman simply by his administrative accomplishments. There's also the other side, the judge side, actively deciding cases and leading the Court of Appeals in a direction that he thinks is best for the State of New York and will keep the Court as one of, if not the, most pre-eminent state courts in the country. Within three years, he has clearly indicated the idea that the Court of Appeals continue in the tradition of former Chief Judge Cardozo, in developing the common law to adapt to and reflect the myriad changes in society that occur on an almost daily basis. If you look at the decisions of the Court, he encourages dissent. He has dissented a lot, but always in the sense of setting a path for the direction of the court. When you look at his record, I think his accomplishments as a judge and a leading intellectual figure in New York Law, as well as the law of the United States, will be clear.

This is a little anecdotal joke, and I'll add in my embellishment. Two Court of Appeals Chief Judges previous, the Judge got his desk, and he told his wife, "this is Judge Cardozo's desk." The judge was beaming and really proud to sit at Cardozo's desk. The wife then reported, "and after you're finished, it'll still be known as Cardozo's desk." I think I can honestly say that at the end of Chief Judge Lippman's tenure, that that desk will be known as "Lippman's desk." That's how wonderful a job he has done and what that portends for the future. …

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