In Memoriam – Honorable Judith S. Kaye

January 8, 2016

It is with great sadness that the New York Women’s Bar Association reported the passing of long-time member and former Chief Judge of the State of New York Honorable Judith S. Kaye.  She was 77.  Judge Kaye was a gifted leader of the bench and bar, and an extraordinary mentor and friend.  She will be terribly missed, but her remarkable legacy will last for generations to come.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, January 11, 2016
at 10 a.m. in the David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center
Plaza, New York City (at 63rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue).
Doors will open at 9:15 a.m.  [Judges who attend are asked not to wear robes.]

We send our sincerest condolences to Judge Kaye’s family and friends.

Judith S. Kaye was the first woman to serve as a Judge on the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, and she was the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of the State of New York.  In those roles, she influenced both legal precedent and statewide policies for the betterment of all.  We will include a full tribute in our February NYWBA Newsletter, but today we want to celebrate Judge Kaye’s life and her impact on the law, the State of New York, our Association, and our members.

NYWBA President Jennifer P. Brown mentioned that she admired Judge Kaye long before they met.  It was so impressive that Judge Kaye proved to be so warm and open in person, that Ms. Brown respected her even more.  She also noted how generous Judge Kaye was with her time; her enthusiasm as a speaker at our events; and her sponsorship of many Women’s Bar activities and initiatives.

Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin, past NYWBA President and past Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division for the First Department, spoke of Judge Kaye’s great impact on the profession and the law, noting her devotion to enhancing the rights of children, and her efforts to ensure that when instances of domestic violence were revealed in cases that they not be taken lightly but be considered a factor in court determinations.

Past President Elizabeth A. Bryson acknowledged Judge Kaye’s personal mentoring of attorneys and court staff.  She also remarked on Judge Kaye’s determined efforts to reach out to a broad spectrum of the legal and business community when she made appointments to statewide commissions, such as the Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts, so that such bodies “looked like the community and could more appropriately represent the interests of the state’s population.”

During her tenure on the bench, Judge Kaye implemented many important reforms and enhancements to the court system, including expanding the pool of persons eligible to serve on juries while streamlining jury service protocols; widely expanding the resources and training for New York State judges and staff, including judges in the Village and Town Courts; and creating specialty courts to deal with the complex and sometimes multidisciplinary issues presented in criminal and civil cases.

Judge Kaye was a member of many bar associations, including the New York Women’s Bar Association (representing her life and work in New York City), the Orange-Sullivan Women’s Bar Association (recognizing the area of her birth), the Capital District Women’s Bar Association (recognizing her many years in Albany as a member of the Court of Appeals), and the National Association of Women Judges.

Hon. Judith S. Kaye was generous, noble and inspired, and she made an indelible impression on everyone she met.  We are honored by her memory