Each year, the best arbitration teams in New York State competed in the Annual Judith Kaye Arbitration Competition. The competition is named after the late Judge Judith Kaye who was Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals from 1993 until 2008. Not only was Judge Kaye the first woman to serve as Chief Judge, she was also the longest serving chief judge in New York’s history.
As quoted by the New York Times at the time of her retirement;
“She leaves a legacy for advancing the court system into places and dimensions where it had never been,” said Albert M. Rosenblatt, one of Judge Kaye’s former colleagues on the court and the author of a book on the history of judges in the Court of Appeals.
As an administrator, Judge Kaye pushed the court system to address societal problems by creating courts or assigning judges for specific issues like drug abuse, mental health and domestic violence — initiatives that other states followed.”
Judge Kaye may best be remembered for her 2006 decent on Hernandez v. Robles, when the New York State Court of Appeals ruled by a 4-2 margin against same-sex marriage. At the time, Judge Kaye wrote: “I am confident that future generations will look back on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep.” In addition, Judge Kaye worked hard to protect the civil liberties of the citizens of New York State.
After Judge Kaye retired from the Court, she joined the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Megher & Flom LLP where she was of counsel and focused her work on international arbitration. At the firm, she was “called upon to advice and comment on briefs that the firm’s attorneys were planning to submit in international and domestic arbitration cases.” She was also ranked by Chambers and Partners in the first rank of international arbitrators.
In 2015, Judge Kaye had agreed to chair the championship arbitration panel for the inaugural Dispute Resolution Arbitration Competition, but withdrew due to illness. Judge Kaye helped secure a stellar panel for that championship round and by participating in the planning, lent credibility to a very new program.
After her death, the competition organizers pushed and succeeded to have the competition named after Judge Kaye. In addition, during the competition, arbitrators nominate competitors based on their individual effectiveness in the preliminary rounds — the most effective competitor receives the Judith S. Kaye Advocate Award and a $1,000 cash prize.
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