Victoria A. Graffeo is finishing her fourteen-year term on the New York Court of Appeals as this issue is being published. She has served on the state's highest tribunal with great distinction and unsurpassed dignity. As a judge whose uncompromising and tireless dedication to the judicial role has been a major factor in maintaining the Court of Appeals as the nation's premiere common law court, we admire her and are enormously grateful for her contributions to the administration of justice and the law. As an alum of our law school, we could not be more proud or more inspired by her example. As a devoted friend and supporter of our school, and especially our students, we regard her as family with deep affection.
This issue of the Albany Law Review's State Constitutional Commentary is dedicated to Judge Graffeo as the slightest measure of that admiration and affection. Robert Mclver, the law review's executive editor for this issue, has penned a tribute duly expressing appreciation for Judge Graffeo's judicial and administrative work. He notes her "fastidiously crafted opinions that produce clear rules of law, but also demonstrate the important role of the judiciary as the dutiful interpreter of law." (1) He similarly lauds her "remarkable contributions" to court administration, recognizing that her work has "been monumental and will be enduring in providing equal justice." (2)
As part of our tribute to Judge Graffeo, we also dedicated this year's Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke Symposium to her. There was a catch, however, to that dedication. She was recruited to moderate the discussion, by an exceptionally distinguished panel from around the country, on the topic of state high courts
"Exceeding Federal Standards." (3) Of course, she performed her moderator duties marvelously. And speaking of marvelous, that too is an apt description of the symposium introduction of Judge Graffeo by New York's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who was in China at the time, but appeared via recorded video.
Having charged Judge Graffeo with the development and implementation of some of his boldest and most challenging initiatives, the Chief Judge praised her for "do[ing] it all with a full heart and tremendous organizational and managerial skills that get things done. No ands, ifs, or huts . . . ." (4) And in addition to embracing her as "a wonderful colleague and rare human being, who is .. . collegial, warm, funny, and caring," (5) he declared her to be "one of the great judges in the luminous history of our court ... a legal and judicial craftsman, whose insights and analytical and written work has had a lasting impact on the jurisprudence of our state ...." (6)
Although it was my privilege to introduce the panelists at the symposium, I did not get to speak about Judge Graffeo because that was left to the Chief Judge. So let me repeat some of what I have said and written about Judge Graffeo on many occasions elsewhere--in the specific context of her departure from the Court of Appeals:
[I]t will take some time before Judge Graffeo can be "replaced" in any sense of experience, wisdom, and well earned esteem. She has evolved over the course of her 14...