Judith S. Kaye joined Skadden’s Litigation Group in 2009. Before joining the firm, she served as Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals for 15 years until her retirement in 2008, longer than any other Chief Judge in New York’s history. She first was appointed in 1983 by Gov. Mario Cuomo as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, becoming the first woman ever to serve on New York’s highest court.
Ms. Kaye gained a national reputation for both her groundbreaking decisions and her innovative reforms of the New York court system. She wrote notable decisions on a wide variety of statutory, constitutional and common law issues, including rights for gay couples and the death penalty. Ms. Kaye also left her mark on New York’s courts as a creative reformer, streamlining New York’s jury system and establishing specialized courts to focus on issues such as drug addiction, domestic violence and mental health issues. In addition, she created the Adoption Now program that has produced more effective procedures for children in foster care and their families. Her reforms have been implemented by many other state courts. Before her appointment to the bench, she practiced law at Sullivan & Cromwell, IBM and Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell & Weyher, where she became that firm’s first female partner.
Ms. Kaye is the author of more than 200 publications, including articles on legal process, state constitutional law, women in law, juvenile justice, professional ethics and problem-solving courts.
She has received numerous awards recognizing her judicial and scholarly accomplishments, such as the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal, the ABA Justice Center John Marshall Award, the National Center for State Courts’ William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Adoption Excellence Award.
LL.B., New York University, 1962 (cum laude)
B.A., Barnard College, 1958
Member of the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association
Chair, Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children
Founding Member and Honorary Chair, Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert
Member of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors
Former President, Conference of Chief Justices and Chair of the Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts