Monday, May 10, 2021

Court of Appeals Judges Without Prior Judicial Experience: Asset or Liability?

By Joseph Zeitler
Joseph Zeitler is a December 2020 graduate of Albany Law School, where he was also a member of the Albany Law Review. Joseph has worked as both a law clerk at a local Albany law firm and as a legal intern at the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Prior to attending law school, Joseph spent three years on the West coast working in the aerospace industry. In 2014, he graduated from Clarkson University, where he majored in Supply Chain Management with a minor in Literature.
This past summer, Joseph worked at the law firm of Whiteman, Osterman, & Hanna, LLP in Albany, and he is looking forward to joining the firm in 2021.
This presentation was prepared for Prof. Bonventre’s Court of Appeals Intensive seminar.

New York State Court of Appeals judges have come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some had little to no prior experience on the bench when appointed to the court. This lack of judicial experience may pose a concern about the capacity to perform judicial work of high quality.

When analyzing a Court of Appeals Judge and how a lack of judicial experience might have impacted the quality of their judicial work, it must at least be determined how practicing law beyond the bench might have contributed or detracted from that quality.

This paper discusses the careers and experiences of several Court of Appeals Judges.  Analyzing both their legal work prior to sitting on the bench and their work while on the Court can shed light on whether the lack of judicial experience was a liability, or even an asset.
To read the paper, open HERE.