The Lippman Court. Indeed, the Lippman era. There is no mistaking the direction and dynamics that have distinguished New York's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the Court of Appeals, the state's high court, since he assumed the center seat a short--but remarkable--six years ago in February 2009.
From the very outset, Chief Judge Lippman left no doubt that he intended to make the most of his tenure that would come to an end at the close of 2015, the year of his forced age, 70, retirement under New York law. As was outlined in the pages of this law review barely one year into Lippman's tenure, he was already making his mark. (1) Not by the insistence upon some rigid interpretive methodology, nor by the adherence to some popular partisan ideology, not by the pretense of certainty on difficult legal issues joined with a concomitant discouragement of differing perspectives. No.
Instead, from the very beginning there has been the Lippman hallmark of seeking justice, fairness, and decency whenever and wherever a gap or ambiguity in the law permitted an interpretation and application that better promoted those policy goals. Likewise, in his role as the chief executive of the state's mammoth judicial branch, the Lippman hallmark has been the unrelenting push for reforms of old, inequitable and unwise ways of managing courts and trials and convictions. (2)
For this, and for so much more, including his enthusiastic and unfailing support for the Albany Law Review (3) and of Albany Law School students generally, (4) we are extremely proud to dedicate this issue of the law review's State Constitutional Commentary--as we did our Cooke Symposium this past spring--to our friend and mentor, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. (5)
This year's State Constitutional Commentary symposium--the ninth actual such event named for Lawrence H. Cooke, former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals and 1938 graduate of Albany Law School--brought together another extraordinary panel. The concept of this year's symposium, High Courts, Center Seat: Chief Justices at Albany Law School, was a wide ranging discussion of judicial administration, selection, and decision making from the perspective of those who preside over their states' judicial branches. (6)
And yes, it was indeed another extraordinary panel. In past years, the Cooke symposium has brought to Albany Law School many of the most venerable names in the American judiciary to discuss issues facing the nation's state...