Skadden mourns the passing of our colleague and friend Judith Kaye. Before joining our New York appellate litigation and arbitration practice in 2009, Judith spent 25 years on the bench of the New York Court of Appeals, including the last 15 as its chief judge.
The first woman to serve on New York's highest court, Judith earned a national reputation for her pioneering opinions and court reforms. She wrote seminal opinions on such issues as the death penalty, same-sex marriage, education and state constitutional rights while leading innovative changes to the New York court system, including the establishment of specialized courts to focus on issues of drug addiction, domestic violence and mental health. As chief judge, Judith created the Adoption Now program, helped establish the Center for Court Innovation and co-chaired the ABA Commission on the American Jury. She retired from the bench in 2008, having served longer than any chief judge in state history.
At Skadden, Judith helped Queens Development Group secure the dismissal of a petition to halt a $3 billion development, conducted an independent review of Binghamton University's men's basketball program in response to alleged NCAA violations, and advised Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in its settlement of a dispute regarding the renaming of Avery Fisher Hall, among other representations, and served as a trustee of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation. She also continued her advocacy for families and children, including through her service as the chairwoman of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children.
Judith graduated from Barnard College ('58) and NYU School of Law ('62), where she was one of 10 women in a class of 300. She became the first female partner at Olwine, Connelly before joining the Court of Appeals.
Judith is survived by her children, Luisa, Jonathan and Gordon, and seven grandchildren.
She will be greatly missed.