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Judith S. Kaye

As the first woman to serve as chief judge of the state of New York, Judith S. Kaye transformed the state’s entire court system to better handle its overwhelming caseload. Kaye graduated NYU Law School in 1962 and joined the law firm of Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell, and Weyher, eventually becoming the firm’s first woman partner. Her courtroom skills led to an appointment from Governor Mario Cuomo as the first female justice of the New York State Court of Appeals in 1983; she later rose to chief justice of the Court of Appeals. In 1993, Cuomo appointed her as the first female chief judge of the state of New York. From the bench, Kaye advocated for children, women’s health, and solutions to domestic violence, and served as vice president of the Legal Aid Society, among many other judicial institutions. But her most significant work was her establishment of the Center for Court Innovation, an experimental think-tank to improve the workings of the judiciary, which made New York state a leader in court reform and whose impact was felt long after Kaye’s retirement in 2008.

More on Judith S. Kaye
Judith Kaye, Presidential Libraries Conference, Hyde Park, New York
Full image
Chief Judge of the State of New York Judith S. Kaye welcomes attendees to Day Two sessions of the Presidential Libraries Conference in Hyde Park sponsored by all of the Presidential Libraries and the National Archives.
Photo by William Boxer, courtesy of the National Archives.
Date of Birth
August 4, 1938
Place of Birth
Monticello, New York
Date of Death
January 7, 2016

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith S. Kaye." (Viewed on January 19, 2018) <>.


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