State of New York Court of Appeals

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State of New York Court of Appeals
Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1847
Location:   Albany, New York
Chief:  $191,000
Associates:  $185,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   14 years
Active justices

Susan Read  •  Eugene Pigott  •  Jonathan Lippman  •  Leslie Stein  •  Sheila Abdus-Salaam  •  Eugene Fahey  •  Jenny Rivera  •  

Seal of New York.png

The New York Court of Appeals is New York's highest appellate court, created in 1847, replacing the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors. Its 1842 neoclassical courthouse is located in Albany, New York.[1]


JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Susan Read2003-2017Gov. George Pataki
Judge Eugene Pigott2006-2020Gov. George PatakiDemocratic
Chief judge Jonathan Lippman2009-12/31/2015Gov. David Paterson
Judge Leslie Stein2/9/2015-2029Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam2013-2027Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Judge Eugene Fahey2015-2029Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Judge Jenny Rivera2013-2030Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Chief justice

On January 13, 2009, Governor David Paterson appointed Judge Jonathan Lippman to be chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals. This was to replace Judge Judith Kaye. Lippman was formerly a judge on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.[2]


According to the New York Constitution, the jurisdiction of the court is limited to the "review of questions of law except where the judgment is of death."[3]

Judicial selection

The New York Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: one chief judge and six associate judges. Previously, judges were elected to the seat on the bench. Judges are now appointed by the governor to 14-year terms.[1]


To be considered a qualified candidate for the New York Court of Appeals, a person must have been admitted to the practice of law for at least five years.[4] This is described in the New York Constitution, Article Six, Section 20, which can be found here.


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 * *
2013 1,923 1,633
2012 1,636 1,570
2011 1,706 1,597
2010 1,760 1,620
2009 1,725 1,582
2008 1,749 1,684
2007 1,821 1,625


  • New York has not yet made 2014 caseload data available.

Judge allowance increase

In October 2009, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced via a webcast available only to the judiciary that he was authorizing a doubling of the annual amount paid to judges for expenses - from $5,000 to $10,000. In 2008, the New York Office of Court Administration paid out approximately $6 million to judges receiving the $5,000 "allowance." This increase took the total expense stipend outlay to roughly $12 million per year. The Office of Court Administration's total annual budget in 2008 was $2.27 billion.[6]

Lippman cited the lack of pay raises for judges in the last ten years as a reason for why the increase was needed. Three suits were brought before the Court of Appeals regarding the matter of judicial pay in New York. Two of the suits were brought by individual judges and one was brought by the court system. Lippman recused himself from hearing the cases.[6]

Notable judges

The court's most famous judge was Benjamin Cardozo (who was later appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States). Cardozo authored many landmark cases during his tenure, including Palsgraf v. Long Island Rail, MacPherson v. Buick and Wood v. Lucy.[7] During the late 20th century, the most famous judge was Chief Judge Sol Wachtler, who was elected to the court in 1972 and appointed chief judge in 1985. He was renowned for the fine quality of his legal opinions. Wachtler's career ended disastrously in November 1992, when the FBI arrested him for stalking a wealthy woman with whom he had previously been having an affair.[8]

Notable decisions

New York is notable for being one of only two states to declare the death penalty statute unconstitutional, which the State of New York Court of Appeals did in the case of People v. LaValle in June 2004.[9]

In July 2006, the court, applying rational-basis scrutiny, held 4-2 (Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt recused) that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of same-sex marriage. Judge Robert S. Smith, writing for the three-judge plurality, stated that "[w]hether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the Legislature."[10] Judge Victoria Graffeo concurred. Chief Judge Judith Kaye, in a dissent signed onto by Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, criticized the majority opinion. Arguing that homosexuals are a "suspect class" and that the law infringes "the fundamental right to marry," Kaye stated the law warranted "heightened or strict scrutiny" rather than the rational-basis analysis applied by the majority.[10]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of New York was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, New York received a score of -0.24. Based on the justices selected, New York was the 18th most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[11]


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. New York earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[12]

History of the court

New York Court of Appeals Courthouse in Albany

Former judges

See also

External links



See also: State Supreme Court elections, 2008

Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick faced a retention election and was retained.

New York Court of Appeals
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick Green check mark transparent.png n/a n/a