Monday, February 18, 2019

Judge Cooke: The Man and His Impact on the Law

By Anthony Sokolowski
Anthony Sokolowski, a third year student at Albany Law School, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Center for Judicial Process. He graduated from Utica College in 2016 with a bachelors in political science and minor in philosophy.  In addition to serving as EIC of the Center, Anthony is also the Executive Editor of Albany Law's Government Law Review and the Treasurer of the Italian American Law Society. Upon graduation, Anthony will be working as an Assistant Distract Attorney at the Oneida County District Attorney's Office.

Lawrence Henry Cooke has been described as “a giant . . . [i]n every good and important way.” For a man who began his work days at four in the morning, it cannot be overstated how impressive his impact on the law, not only on the subject matter he covered, but also on the people he encountered along the way.

This paper examines the Judge’s rise to the court, his key decisions as an associate judge and how they impacted they law as well as his decisions as Chief Judge and their impact on the law. The impact will focus mostly on the impact his opinions had on the criminal law field. Lastly, this work concludes with a discussion on his impact on the people he worked with and concluding remarks.

Born in Monticello, New York, Judge Cooke was heavily influenced by his father, George, who as a graduate of Albany Law School, was elected Sullivan County District Attorney in 1909. George Cooke made the transition from attorney to judge when he was elected to County Judge of the Surrogate and Children’s Court in 1926, a position he would spend the next twenty-two years working. Judge Cooke would learn from his father a lesson he would continue to share throughout his career, “when in doubt, always take the high road.”

Judge Cooke originally attended Harvard Law School before transferring to Albany Law School to obtain his law degree. He began his practice at the law office of John Lyons. While in private practice, he also worked as a volunteer fireman, was elected as Supervisor of the Town of Thompson and even filled his father shoes by becoming elected to the County Judge of Surrogate and Children’s Court in 1959. This ultimately led to his becoming elected to the Justice of the Supreme Court in the Third Department of New York in 1961, which then led to a cross party nomination by then Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1968 to New York State’s Appellate Division, Third Department.
To read the paper, open HERE.