Hon. Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of New York State, delivered the 2010 Claire Flom Memorial Lecture at Fordham Law on March 25. The title of her lecture was “Hats Off to Claire Flom and her Special Vision: Education and the Importance of Being Involved.”
After being introduced by Feerick Center Director and former Dean John Feerick, Judge Kaye spoke about the importance of getting involved in the education of our nation’s children, especially those with special needs.
“Education matters,” said Judge Kaye. “Kids, particularly at-risk kids, lacking or denied an education have a distinctly diminished chance of making it in today’s world. Every single one of us can and we must help to make a difference for them.”
Judge Kaye continued by advocating the idea of early intervention to improve the lives and educations of children: “As with so many things in life, a little attention to a problem at its very outset can avoid incalculable costs later on, and this is nowhere more true than with respect to children.
“Our laser-beam focus has to include early intervention—preventive measures that reduce the flow of children into courts and detention facilities.”
Throughout her legal career, Judge Kaye has exhibited her commitment to the welfare of children. She has long served as Chair of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, established in 1988 to improve the lives and life chances of children involved in New York courts. Many of her numerous scholarly articles focus on education, including “Education Counts: Turning Crisis into Opportunity for Adolescents,” 60 Juvenile and Family Court Journal1 (Fall 1990) and “A ‘New Beginning’ for Adolescents in our Criminal Justice System,” 36Fordham Urban L.J. 839 (June 2009).
First appointed to the bench in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo, Judge Kaye became the first woman to serve on the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. She served as Chief Judge for 15 years until her retirement in 2008, longer than any other judge in New York’s history.