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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NY Senate approves Lippman as top judge

NY Senate approves Lippman as top judge
Associated Press - 1:17 p.m., Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ALBANY -- The state Senate has approved the appointment of a longtime administrative judge to head New York's court system and preside at the Court of Appeals. Judge Jonathan Lippman, confirmed Wednesday by voice vote, joins the top court to replace Judge Judith Kaye, who retired. Earlier, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 22-0 with one abstention to advance the nomination. While noting Lippman's qualifications, several senators criticized the selection process and the Commission on Judicial Nomination for failing to include any women on its short list of seven potential nominees. Lippman, a midlevel appeals court presiding judge, is former chief administrative judge of the state court system. He worked for a decade with Kaye on court reforms.


Lippman Confirmed as Chief Judge
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko -  February 13, 2009

ALBANY - Jonathan Lippman, a lifetime employee of New York state courts, was confirmed as chief judge this afternoon by the state Senate without a single negative vote. Chief Judge Lippman, the presiding justice in the Appellate Division, First Department since 2007, faced virtually no criticism from senators, either from those on the Judiciary Committee or in the full Senate. The committee confirmed his nomination by Governor David A. Paterson, 22-0, with one abstention and the Senate followed suit in a voice vote with no opposition. The new chief judge said he would hear his first oral arguments from the center seat at the Court of Appeals on Thursday. Chief Judge Lippman, 63, succeeds Judith S. Kaye, who was forced to step down at the end of 2008 due to the Court's mandatory retirement rules. She served as chief judge for more than 15 years, the longest tenure in state history. While no senators questioned Chief Judge Lippman's credentials, several attacked the system that led to his nomination.

The Commission on Judicial Nomination's list of seven candidates from which Mr. Paterson had to nominate a new chief judge contained the names of no women and only one minority, current Court of Appeals Associate Judge Theodore T. Jones Jr., who is black. Speaking to the full Senate, Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, called the nominating process a "sad moment for the state of New York" and another in a long series of discouraging setbacks for the black and Hispanic legal communities. "We cannot stay in the minor leagues our entire lives," Mr. Adams, who is black, told the Senate as Chief Judge Lippman and his family looked down on the proceedings from the chamber's gallery. "We need to play in the major leagues. . . . If we can integrate the White House, we can integrate the black robes." Judiciary Committee Chairman John L. Sampson, D-Brooklyn, said from the Senate floor that senators expect the chief judge to follow through on his assurances to them that he will do all he can to expand diversity on state court benches and guarantee that defendants of all races are treated fairly in New York courts.  "We don't want lip service as to inclusion, we want inclusion," Mr. Sampson said. "We want to be at the table."

Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Pedro Espada Jr., both D-Bronx, said they were joining Mr. Adams in abstaining from voting for Chief Judge Lippman in what they said was a protest over the lack of diversity in the nominating process.  "I am abstaining from voting because we have a problem, and if I vote 'yes,' that makes me part of the problem," Mr. Diaz said during the committee hearing. "My conscience does not allow me to come here to vote 'yes.'" Judge Jones, Court of Appeals Associate Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick and Second Department Presiding Justice A. Gail Prudenti all spoke to the committee in support of Chief Judge Lippman's confirmation.  "There is no one person in the court system today that deserves this more than Jonathan Lippman, who has labored in the judicial vineyards for so many years," Judge Ciparick said.

Judge Ciparick applied for the chief judge's position, but did not make the Commission on Judicial Nomination's final list to the governor.  "I would be dishonest if I didn't say to you that I would have loved to have been the subject of today's proceedings," Judge Ciparick told Judiciary Committee members. "I would have made a good chief judge, but Jonathan Lippman will be a great chief judge." Judge Jones did not allude to his own candidacy for chief judge, but said that Chief Judge Lippman's experience as chief state administrative judge from 1996 to 2008 would be especially valuable in keeping the courts operating during the current economic times. "I expect that his years of experience, which he'll be bringing to this process, will be of great significance in maintaining our economically independent judiciary," Judge Jones said.  In his remarks to the Judiciary Committee, Chief Judge Lippman said he has devoted his professional life to the state court system. Other than his family, Chief Judge Lippman said he cares most about the courts and its employees.  "It's what moves me," he said. "It's my passion. It's what I care about."

Chief Judge Lippman told senators he is committed to diversity in the court system and the even-handed dispensing of justice by the courts. He said he also remained committed to securing the first pay raise for state judges in a decade and wanted to work with the Legislature and the governor to create a commission that would periodically recommend raises for judges and state legislators that would be subject to the approval by the governor and state lawmakers.  Chief Judge Lippman called the delay since the last time judges got raises in 1999 a "debacle" and said getting judges raised is his "priority No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5." "There is nothing more important to our constituency and the courts," he said.  Chief Judge Lippman, a Democrat, grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 1968 and immediately went to work for the courts. He was selected as presiding justice of the First Department in 2007 by then-Governor Eliot Spitzer. His confirmation gives male judges a 4-3 majority over women on the Court of Appeals. Barring resignation or illness, the new chief judge's term will run through Dec. 31, 2015, the year in which he will reach the Court's mandatory retirement age of 70.


Anonymous said...

Prior to his leaving, do you think he will rule on my Petition to the Appellate Division First Department (transferred from the Second Department to free from conflicts of interests and appearances of impropriety) to begin the immediate investigation of my personal complaints against Denis J. Timone and Albert A. Capellini for abuse of process and ignorance of the rule of law?

Anonymous said...

After hearing that Lippman would be our next chief judge, I wanted to just drop to the floor and weep. But first I have to finish throwing up!

Anonymous said...

A curse on all their houses.

Anonymous said...

And the next PJ at the first department will be.......

Anonymous said...

the Joker or Penquin

Anonymous said...

This is a joke, right??? Who was the fool that thought that Jonathan Lippman would not get the slot? Sen. Sampson and all the rest was just show business going through the motions for the suckers!
THE FIX WAS IN RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING! Shelly and his buds did this one! Oh what law firm is Shelly Silver with? What is that name? If the feds are not too busy drinking coffee and eating donuts they just might want to look into that law firm, unless Shelly already paid them off?

Anonymous said...

They should have not abstained they should have had the stones to vote against Lippman.
They neglected thier duty as elected officials and played party pollitics instead. Lippman will do nothing to diversify the courts. He will do as little as Kay.
Every year or so he will do a photo op for the newsletter.

Anonymous said...

So , who was the one cowardly holdout on the vote to confirm Lippman ????

Anonymous said...

My Testimony at the Senate Judicial Hearings on
The Confirmation of Presumptive Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

By William Alexander Galison

This morning I witnessed an extraordinary, historic and terrifying spectacle.

Of the approximately 19 million residents of New York State, I was one of precisely three individuals who testified in opposition to the confirmation of Judge Jonathan Lippman at the public hearings of the State Judicial Committee at the Senate House in Albany.

This was not because only three New York citizens out if 19 million oppose the confirmation. It is because I was one of about ten citizens (unaffiliated with the judge) who were aware that the hearings were being held, seven of whom could not make it up to Albany by 9:00 in the morning on one day's notice.

Right up to just hours before the hearings began, no announcement had been posted on the website of the Senate Judicial Committee. No announcements were made in any media- including WNYC- presumably because they too were unaware of the hearings. In fact, the time and place of the hearings had been a tightly guarded secret, apparently known only to the senators, the judge's intimates and a select group of journalists.

My colleagues and I found out on Monday afternoon only because one of us asked Senator Sampson's assistant if the hearings were occurring on Monday?...Tuesday?.... Wednesday?, and the assistant, (unable to lie in case we were recording the conversation) confessed that the hearings were on Wednesday.

Although all 19 million New Yorkers were eligible to testify for or against Lippman, far fewer attended because roughly 18,999,990 citizens were utterly unaware of the hearings.

As Wayne Barnett explained on the Brian Lehrer show this morning, Judge Lippman has become the third or fourth most powerful figure in New York State Government, and in tandem with his lifelong friend and manager Shel don Silver, arguably the most powerful entity in the State. Though the analogy is imperfect, it is comparable to the gubernatorial elections being held without the awareness of all citizens except fifty of one candidate's best friends.

The hearing was a wild orgy of adulation for Mr. Lippman. Speaker after speaker extolled his virtues as a jurist, administrator and legal scholar.

Eventually my malcontent colleagues and I were granted five minutes each to vent our harangues against the unconstitutional nature of the hearings, the absence of investigation, the documented criminal acts and overt corruption by Lippman and his appointees at the disciplinary Committee and other downers that damped the celebratory spirit ike a moldy rag. I went so dark as to mentioned the eight hand-delivered letters to Judge Lippman regarding rampant corruption at the DDC by Lippman's appointees, none of which ha d been answered.

What a bunch of party-poopers we were. No wonder they don't tell the public about these public hearings.

Our testimonies, punctuated by snickers and snorts, were followed by silence , then snide grumbling among the revelers, who were itching to move to the Senate floor and get the full Senate confirmation (which was already scheduled) in the bag.

To lift the pall of our whinging from the festive air, our presentations were followed by more accolades, after which Judge Lippman held forth for twenty minutes about his accomplishments and ambitions. He promised to build even higher public confidence in the judiciary and praised the New York judiciary as a "model for the rest of the nation".

The scene was so bizarre and perverse that I half expected to see Rod Serling saunter through the door with a cigarette, saying "You have just attended a public the Twilight Zone."

Mostly I felt like the little boy in the the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes"; in this case "The Governor's New Chief Judge". While all the Governor's sycophantic ministers were praising the glorious achievements and magnificent promise of the presumptive Chief Judge, I was looking at a weasely, twitching, scheming and ruthless little man, who I sensed regarded himself more as I did then as did the senators.

I can't recall how the Emperor story ended. Did the Emperor hear the little boy, realize that he had been hoodwinked, and reward him with piles of gold and the hand of his beautiful daughter? Or did he have the little boy disemboweled and drawn and quartered for fucking up a perfectly good parade?

Whatever; the merry group proceeded to the grand Senate floor, where they heaped more approbia on Judge Lippman who sat, beaming beautifically from the center balcony above the senate floor.

i was sitting at the side balcony directly over the president of the Senate, watching the alternatively slouching and speechifying Senators below and the new Chief Judge who sat only yards to my right glowing like a transfiguration.

I suddenly felt the urge to vomit, and rather than launch my breakfast onto the statesmen below, I hurried out of the hall, just in time to be pushed out the door by the shock wave of applause and cheers that signaled the confirmation of the Honorable Justice Lippman as the new Chef Judge of New York State.

A few minutes later, the ebullient crowd spilled out of the Senate hall door, embracing, beaming, weeping and congratulating each other. Suddenly I saw Judge Lippman working his way through the throng, warmly shaking hands and saying "thank you, thank you" As he passed he grasp ed my extended hand and before he recognized me I said, "when do you suppose I'll be getting an answer to those letters?"

How fast can a man's gaze change from misty-eyed beneficence to stark, primal fury? Faster than a hand can be withdrawn and waved in a gesture of disgusted dismissal as he turns away and is swallowed into his swarm of admirers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

anyone know what happened to this case?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

People throughout NY state believe that downstate citizens are unrelenting, brutal and wild warriors..when it comes to whatever they fight for...and usually get!

Take down Lippman anyway you can. We look up to you people for your abilities..let us continue that admiration.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Galison,

Of all the elements God threw into the soup when He made Man, why do you suppose he included hypocrisy? It seems the bigger the crowd the more it manifests.

Anonymous said...


How about getting really diverse and put judges with some competence on the Court, for a change? That would be a novel approach.

Speaking of diversity. No one argues that the Pope needs to be Cahtolic to assume the throne. Is there any requirement that the Chief Judge for the Court of Appeals be Jewish?

Simply because once two of our Best and Brightest Chief Judges were Jewish (Breitel and Fuld) doesn't mean all JEWS are bright. Let us have some diversity for a change and put competence first.

Anonymous said...


great stuff. loved it. not since the days of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Seigel has the Lower East Side produced such a potent combination of powerhouses as Silver and Lippman.

Any truth to the rumors that the Inaugural Celebrations will be moved to Caeser's Palace, Las Vegas because Shelly gets good rates there?

Anonymous said...

If judges were not so tied up with vice cases, and insignificant victimless crimes,
maybe we could improve the overall competence of judges AND the "judicial experience"

Anonymous said...

NYS Law Judiciary 14 --- RIP --- thanks to our new Emperor Jonathan Lippman

Anonymous said...

The AP article goes on to say:

Three court critics, Elena Sassower, Will Gallison and Dean Loren, faulted the nomination. Sassower said there were only two public access points, publication of the commission list and the Senate hearing. Gallison said complaints he'd tried to file against a Manhattan lawyer were ignored by Lippman at the Appellate Division, and it turned out the attorney's partner was on the nomination commission. Loren, a Cherokee, said court diversity should include Native Americans.

Frank, please post this part of the article.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2