2008 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence Recipient

Presiding Justice Jonathan Lippman

Read Justice Lippman's
from the Nov. 20,
2008, event.

Presiding Justice Jonathan Lippman of the Appellate Division of the First Judicial Department of the New York State Supreme Court has been named recipient of the 2008 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). One of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country, the Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts will present the award to Justice Lippman at a ceremony on the evening of November 20th at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye credits Justice Lippman with many of the advancements of the New York courts. “Whether the subject has been jury reform, or drug courts, or judicial selection, or the local justice court system … or getting our courts through the aftermath of September 11th, or innumerable other difficult, delicate, sensitive subjects, with Judge Lippman as the Chief Operating Officer, the New York courts have moved decisively into the twenty-first century, and have also served as a model of innovation for other state courts throughout the nation.” Chief Judge Kaye was the William H. Rehnquist Award winner in 1999.

As Chief Administrative Judge, Justice Lippman was cited for effectively mobilizing judges and court staff to reopen 10 key court facilities and administrative offices in Manhattan following the 9-11 terrorist attacks; being instrumental in making New York one of the leaders in problem-solving justice; overseeing efforts to overhaul New York’s jury system; and expanding access to justice, among many other accomplishments.

In describing Justice Lippman’s character, Chief Judge Kaye said an article in the New York Law Journal accurately summed it up: “Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman remains the tireless happy warrior of New York’s court system …Judge Lippman manages to retain his first-day-on-the-job enthusiasm, rooted in the conviction that he can make a difference.”

Justice Lippman served as New York’s Chief Administrative Judge from 1996-2007 and was responsible for the operation of a court system with a $2.4 billion budget; 1,300 state-paid judges; 2,300 town and village judges; and 16,000 nonjudicial personnel. He served as President of the Conference of State Court Administrators and Vice-Chair of the National Center for State Courts from 2005-06.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts.