The New York Times: Dissenting Often, State’s Chief Judge Establishes a Staunchly Liberal Record
After he was appointed to head the Court of Appeals in 2009, New York’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, drew attention by forging alliances to get more liberal rulings on the court, which has a 4-to-3 conservative majority. But a new analysis shows another side of his approach: Judge Lippman writes dissents from his own court far more than his predecessors did from their courts.
In those dissenting opinions, he always takes staunchly liberal positions, regularly refusing to compromise on subjects like the rights of criminal suspects and the injury claims of plaintiffs. Last October, a 4-to-3 majority permitted the courts to rely on a confession to sexual abuse that a 13-year-old gave after a police officer asked his mother to leave the interview. But to Judge Lippman, this was a “tired and hungry child isolated in the middle of the night” who might have confessed to anything.
In approving a search warrant in a case in January, the majority, he said, was giving prosecutors “a net far more capacious than the law allows.” In June, he said the court sided against a woman who said she had been injured in a public parking lot because of nothing more than “a judicial aversion to municipal liability.”
The dissents show a chief judge positioning his losing-side views to try to influence cases years from now, said Vincent M. Bonventre, an Albany Law School professor, who described new research he had compiled.