The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL) applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo's nomination of Appellate Division, First Department Justice Paul Feinman to the New York Court of Appeals, our state's highest court. We also urge the State Senate to swiftly confirm him. When he takes his seat, he will be the first openly gay jurist to sit on that bench.
Prior to joining the court system, Justice Feinman was a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, first in Nassau County and then New York. After serving for more than seven years as principal court attorney to Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli, he was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York in November 1996, and was re-elected in November 2006. He sat in both the Criminal Court and the Civil Court in New York County prior to his January 2004 designation by then-Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman to serve as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court. He was elected as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in November 2007. In October 2012, with Governor Cuomo's appointment, he became the first openly gay man elevated to the Appellate Division. Beyond these accomplishments, he has a long history of leadership in the LGBT community and the profession, serving as a former president of LeGaL and the International Association of LGBT Judges, as well as having been the presiding member of the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association and the President and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the State of New York.
Today, Governor Cuomo has once again demonstrated his commitment to moving the LGBT community even further along the path to full opportunity and inclusion in New York. With the State Legislature rarely responding to the needs of our community, the Court of Appeals is often the last word on our rights. This was long overdue, but we are glad the community will finally have a seat at the table in the room where it happens. Nationally, Judge Feinman will be part of a small group of only ten other openly LGBT state supreme court justices, out of 340, in nine other states.
At this moment, we also wish to acknowledge Justice Rosalyn Richter's trailblazing career and enormous contributions to the LGBT community. This nomination in no way diminishes her legacy of incredible achievements and we know that she will continue to be a tremendous leader. We also remember the giants of the New York Court of Appeals, especially allies like the late Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the late Associate Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam. We lost them both much too soon, but they left behind a jurisprudential legacy benefiting the LGBT community for generations.