2005 Cyrus R. Vance Tribute

Honoree: Hon. Judith S. Kaye

Chief Judge of the State of New York

The Fund for Modern Courts honored the Hon. Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York at the third annual Cyrus R. Vance Tribute The Tribute is dedicated to the memory of former Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance to celebrate his vision and integrity as a public official and as a leader in the quest to improve the justice system in New York.

Judith S. Kaye was appointed Chief Judge by Governor Mario M. Cuomo on February 22, 1993, confirmed by the State Senate on March 17 and sworn in on March 23, 1993. She is the first woman to occupy the State Judiciary’s highest office, and she became the first woman to serve on New York State’s highest court when Governor Cuomo appointed her Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals on September 12, 1983.

Judge Kaye has spearheaded numerous initiatives to make the court system more efficient and more responsive to the needs of all New Yorkers. Her groundbreaking initiatives include: the   development of problem-solving courts which have resulted in more effective outcomes for victims of domestic violence, individuals with substance abuse and mental health problems, and many other individuals who face particular burdens in navigating the justice system; the “Adoption Now” program that has produced faster adoptions and more streamlined procedures for children in Foster Care and their families; the creation of the Commercial Division which has eased the court process for commerce claims and helped create a better climate for business in New York. These court improvements, in combination with countless others, have improved the justice system for all New Yorkers and produced a justice system renowned for its innovation.

Chief Judge Kaye is recognized as a national leader in the American judicial system. Her current posts also include service as: Co-Chair of the Commission on the American Jury of the American Bar Association (2004-05); Chair of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children; Founding Member and Honorary Chair, Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA); member of the Board of Editors, New York State Bar Journal; and Trustee of The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation. She has served as President of the Conference of Chief Justices and Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (2002-03). She is the author of numerous publications – particularly articles dealing with legal process, state constitutional law, women in law, professional ethics and problem-solving courts – as well as the recipient of many awards and several honorary degrees.

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