Court of Appeals Judge Paul Feinman Has Died

By Christian Nolan

March 31, 2021

Court of Appeals Judge Paul Feinman Has Died


By Christian Nolan

Good afternoon Members,

It is with great sadness today that we inform you that Paul G. Feinman, associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals, has passed away.

The news comes just eight days after the sudden announcement of his retirement for health reasons.

“Judge Feinman served with excellence at every level of our judiciary, and his broad experience, knowledge and wisdom earned him the respect and warm personal regard of his judicial colleagues,” said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in a lengthy statement. “Judge Feinman was a meticulous, disciplined and humble jurist who weighed the legal interests at stake in each case with great integrity in order to arrive at the correct and just result. His scholarly, well-written opinions reflect a deep knowledge of the law balanced with a generous humanity and commitment to justice.

“Judge Feinman had enormous respect for the Court of Appeals as an institution,” continued DiFiore. “Even as his illness progressed, his productivity and the quality of his writings and contributions never suffered. And no one could want for a warmer or more caring colleague than Paul Feinman.”

DiFiore also described Feinman as “a tireless and resolute champion of LGBTQ rights, a trailblazing pioneer for LGBTQ lawyers and judges and an incredibly dedicated mentor who inspired countless judges, attorneys and law students.”

Feinman had joined the Court of Appeals as an associate judge on June 21, 2017 after the state Senate confirmed his appointment from the governor. His nomination was historic, as he was the first gay judge on the state Court of Appeals.

“With his passing, we have lost his wisdom and keen sense of justice,” said NYSBA President Scott M. Karson. “We have also lost a champion of the rights of our LGBTQ citizens. On a personal note, I am grateful to have had the privilege of getting to know Judge Feinman, when he appeared before NYSBA’s Committee to Review Judicial Nominations, through his service as chair of the New York State Justice Task Force and at many law-related functions.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences, and those of the entire bar association, to his husband, family, friends and colleagues,” Karson added.

Feinman, who had succeeded Associate Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam after she died in April 2017, also spent 20 years on the bench with the state Supreme Court, the Civil Court of New York City and as an associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department. He also was principal law clerk to Appellate Division Associate Justice Angela Mazzarelli and a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1985.

Prior to his nomination to the Court of Appeals, a 17-member committee of the State Bar Association found Feinman “well qualified,” its highest rating, after examining his “professional ability and experience, character, temperament, and possession of the special qualities necessary or desirable for the judicial office sought.”

Feinman has also been active in the New York State Bar Association. He was the presiding member of its Judicial Section in 2012-2013 and a member of its House of Delegates in 2013-14. Feinman also served as a chair of the New York State Justice Task Force, a past president of the International Association of LGBT Judges and a past president of the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the State of New York.

A private funeral service will be held for Feinman’s family and friends.

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