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Judge Would Be First Openly Gay Jurist to Serve in State's Top Court

By Dartunorro Clark | June 16, 2017 1:24pm | Updated on June 19, 2017 9:53am
 Paul Feinman would be the first openly gay person to serve on the state's top court if confirmed.
Paul Feinman would be the first openly gay person to serve on the state's top court if confirmed.
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Rick Kopstein/New York Law Journal

HARLEM — The first openly gay judge has been picked to serve in the state's top court following the death of of trailblazing Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he selected Appellate Judge Paul Feinman to fill the Court of Appeals seat, after Abdus-Salaam was found dead in the Hudson River in April.

If confirmed by the state Senate, Feinman would be the first openly gay judge to serve on the state's top court, Cuomo's office said Thursday. 

"While we continue to mourn the untimely passing of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Justice Feinman will help ensure that the Court of Appeals upholds the highest principles of law and fairness that embody the very best of New York," Cuomo said in a statement. 

"[Feinman] is a talented jurist who has dedicated his career to public service and standing up for a fairer and more just New York."

After graduating from Columbia University and earning a law degree from the University of Minnesota, Feinman began working as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society in Nassau County in 1985.

He then went on to serve as a civil court judge from 1996 until 2006. The following year he was elected to the state Supreme Court and then appointed to the appellate division by Cuomo in 2012. 

In a statement, Feinman called the nomination "a tremendous honor." 

"I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity to serve on the Court of Appeals and, if confirmed, look forward to working with my distinguished colleagues on the court to continue to serve New York," he said.