Monday, April 24, 2017

Former NYS Court of Appeals Judge Pigott: A Record of Pragmatism

By Corey Carmello
Corey Carmello is a third-year student at Albany Law School. He graduated from the University at Albany in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Corey has interned with Judge Lawrence E. Kahn, of the Northern District of New York; the Albany County District Attorney’s Office; and the Appeals and Opinions Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. He is also a member of the Albany Law Review and has served as a teaching assistant. Corey will be working as an associate for Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy upon graduation.

This paper was prepared for Professor Bonventre’s Court of Appeals Intensive Seminar.

During his confirmation hearing, Judge Eugene Pigott said, “I approach each case, I like to say, with a great deal of humility, because I don’t think I’m much smarter than, for example, [the legislature] or the governor or another court . . .” He went on to say that this is the reason he focuses on the legislature’s intent when deciding each case. Pigott explained that he will always start with the statute, and if the legislative intent is clear, he will end with the statute.

An analysis of Judge Pigott’s positions in divided decisions shows that he lived up to the philosophy that he spelled out during his confirmation hearing.  In other words, it is evident from his opinion writing and voting pattern that Judge Pigott highly respected the legislative process, and the decisions made at trial.

This paper will discuss (1) his deference to the legislature;  (2) his deference to the trial courts;  (3) his record on criminal law cases;  and (4) it will discuss which Judges were most frequently on the other side of his majority opinions, and for which types of cases.
To read the paper, open HERE.