NY Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman

Is there a new generation of state Chief Justices? Should there be?

I’ve mentioned before the great content Richard Zorza publishes on his Access to Justice Blog. And this week he praised the New York State Chief Justice. But then he went beyond that praise to suggest there may be a new way of doing business in the offing.

Zorza reported on Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman’s speech in regard to a new pro bono requirement for New York lawyers. But he added, “The news provides yet another example of how a Chief can use his leverage and ‘bully pulpit’ to put and keep access to justice on the public agenda.”

Bully pulpit is a loaded term, one not typically associated with judges and court administrators. In fact, when I read Zorza’s line, I’m sure my eyebrows arched, at least a little.

But Zorza anticipated that, and so he says:

“Some Chiefs are nervous about seeking the limelight, or being too ‘political.’ CJ Lippman seems to have avoided these problems by focusing directly on the courts and on access to justice. He brings to his agenda a long history in the courts, in many roles, during which time he has developed many relationships that have surely been helpful in this more public role. It has also not hurt that he is operating in a relatively progressive political environment. But it is also noteworthy that Chiefs in different environments, such as the one faced by Texas Chief Wallace Jefferson, have been able to make similar progress using similar techniques.”

Is there a role, as Zorba suggests, for “an emerging new generation of Chiefs more willing to be more assertive in their roles”? Are stakes higher, demanding a higher response? Are the forces arrayed against courts, funding and access issues becoming more ominous, so CJs have to mix it up more than ever?

You can read Richard’s whole post here.

In February 2011, I had the chance to attend a conference at which Chief Lippmann delivered the keynote address. He is a passionate and articulate advocate of the justice system and access issues, to that I can attest.

I posted some photos from that criminal justice conference, including photos of the Chief, on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice logo 2014This morning I posted some photos from a recent phenomenal criminal justice conference. It was held in New York City (and I mentioned it here and here).

The conference was aimed at members of the media who cover law and policy. The idea of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Guggenheim Foundation was to bring great sources to us, all in one place. Great idea.

Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker writer and CNN analyst, Jan. 31, 2011

Some of the highlights from the two-day event:

  • A keynote by Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York State’s Chief Judge
  • A panel moderated by Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker writer and CNN Analyst, which included ACLU President Susan Herman and Hon. Sue Bell Cobb, the Alabama Chief Justice
  • Panelists on challenges faced by the courts, which included Judge Robert Russell, whose visit to the State Bar of Arizona we covered before (here and here)
  • Speakers on criminal justice trends
  • Reports from the nation’s prisons
  • Special presentations on gun violence and cybercrime

Susan N. Herman, ACLU President

As part of my invitation to attend and be named a John Jay/Guggenheim Fellow, I committed to write a story on some element covered by the conference. A brief story on an Arizona criminal sentencing debate appears in our April issue (available in hard copy now and online April 1). A longer story on sentencing will appear in an upcoming issue.

More photos are available on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.