The New York Daily News by KENNETH LOVETT - January 13,2009
ALBANY - Gov. Paterson on Tuesday nominated a childhood friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as chief judge of the state's highest court. Paterson picked Jonathan Lippman, presiding justice of the First Department of the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, from a list of seven finalists to head the Court of Appeals. "Judge Lippman led the implementation of nationally significant reforms, including jury reform, contributed to the creation of problem-solving courts, such as special drug courts and domestic violence courts, and played an integral role in keeping the courts open after the attacks on Sept. 11," Paterson said. The nomination goes to the state Senate for approval. "It's certainly an unusual pick even if it's not a surprising one," said Vincent Bonventre, an Albany Law School professor and Court of Appeals expert.
Besides his friendship with Silver, Lippman is also close to Judith Kaye, the longtime chief judge who was required to retire at the end of last year after turning 70. Between 1996 and May 2007, Lippman was Kaye's right-hand man administering the state's vast court system. Lippman is the first non-Court of Appeals judge to become its chief since Alton Parker in 1898, Bonventre said. While Lippman, 63, was always considered a front-runner, some were surprised Paterson did not choose one of two sitting Court of Appeals associate judges on the list of finalists - Theodore Jones and Eugene Pigott. Jones would have been the first black chief justice, but he was the judge who heavily sanctioned the city transit workers union for its illegal strike in 2006. One of the union's lawyers is Basil Paterson, the governor's father.
Choosing Jones or Pigott as chief judge would have meant creating a vacancy on the court, giving Paterson an immediate chance to select a second member of the seven-judge body, court observers said. Paterson last month complained angrily about the lack of diversity on the list of finalists he received from the Commission on Judicial Nomination, noting there were no women or Hispanics. "I would think that, politically, it would have made more sense for him to pick someonbdy on the court so he would have been creating another vacancy," Bonventre said. "He would then have had two opportunities to put his imprint on the Court of Appeals." A Manhattan native, Lippman received his undergraduate degree in 1965 and a law degree in 1968 from New York University. He has been a member of the state bar since 1968.
CITY JUDGE TO BE NEXT CHIEF
The New York Post - January 14, 2009
ALBANY - Jonathan Lippman, who presides over the intermediate appellate court in Manhattan, has been named New York's next chief judge by Gov. Paterson. Lippman will succeed Judge Judith Kaye, who retired last year, after reaching the age limit of 70. Kaye headed the Court of Appeals for 15 years. The nomination must be approved by the state Senate.