Judith S. Kaye, the first female chief judge and the longest serving chief judge of the New York State Court System, died today. She played an instrumental role in founding the Center for Court Innovation, where I have been privileged to work as a writer and editor promoting justice reforms, and she was an outspoken leader in making courts more creative, user-friendly and effective. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right, dissenting in the 2006 case in which a four-judge plurality on the New York Court of Appeals ruled that same-sex couples didn’t have the right to marry. “I am confident that future generations will look back on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep,” she wrote in her dissent. (The New York Legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2011).
I interviewed her a number of times, including for this article, which appeared in The Judges’ Journal in 2002, and for a video about the Center. Excerpts of the video are available here.