Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye is the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Jurist Award, given by the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association.
The award honors a jurist who embodies the highest ideals of the Judicial Section and recognizes judicial excellence and extraordinary commitment to the rule of law. Kaye received her award in New York City on Friday, during the Judicial Section luncheon.
“Judith Kaye made history as chief judge of New York state,” said Albany City Court Judge Rachel Kretser, presiding member of the Judicial Section. “She greatly improved the administration of justice and public confidence in the system. “It is an honor to recognize one of the finest jurists ever to serve on the bench in New York.”
Judge Kaye is of counsel to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. She stepped down as chief judge of the Court of Appeals on Dec. 31, 2008. The first woman to serve on the state’s highest court, she was appointed associate judge in 1983 by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo. He designated her chief judge in 1993.
During her tenure, Judge Kaye instituted key reforms to improve justice, such as jury reform, the creation of the Commercial Division and the problem-solving courts.
Judge Kaye served as president of the Conference of Chief Justices and chaired the board of directors of the National Center for State Courts. She previously received the state bar association’s Ruth G. Schapiro Award, the Stanley H. Fuld Award and the Gold Medal, its highest honor. She co-chairs the state bar’s Special Committee on Youth Courts.
Judge Kaye is a graduate of Barnard College and New York University School of Law.