January 7, 2016

Speaker Heastie Statement on the Passing of
Former Chief Judge Judith Kaye

Today we have lost a true champion of social justice. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye committed her life's work to making New York a better state for every individual and every family regardless of their socioeconomic status. As the first woman to be appointed to the state's highest court and the first to be named chief judge, she was a trailblazer who has inspired all of us to be better public servants. Chief Judge Kaye was among the first to call for restorative, not punitive justice, which acknowledges the challenges facing our society, especially the plight of poor communities and young men of color. She advocated for policies to help struggling families heal and led the charge to strengthen New York's child welfare system. Because of her commitment to preserving New York's families, our courts became a meaningful partner in improving the quality of life for people all across the state.

Chief Judge Kaye fulfilled her service to this great state with the conviction that it is our duty to pursue equality and opportunity in all things. She secured a wave of reforms to the justice system that increased fairness and transparency and boldly reminded us of our duty to secure the best education possible for our children. We will continue fighting for a brighter future for all New Yorkers, remembering her courage and her inspiration that we should never abandon our compassion or our sensibility in the pursuit of justice. I know we will continue to grow stronger because of that vision.