Paul Feinman Named First Gay Man on NYS Appellate Division

Justice Paul Feinman.

Paul G. Feinman, who served on the Civil Court of the City of New York from 1998 through 2007 and as a justice on the State Supreme Court in New York County since January 2008, has been appointed to the Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department, which is based in Manhattan.

The Second Department Appellate Court is one of four regional branches of the intermediate-level appeals court just below the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest bench.

Feinman’s appointment came in an October 1 announcement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who named judges to fill seven vacancies in the Appellate Division, including three in the First Department.

In an message emailed to Gay City News by the governor’s office, Cuomo said, “Throughout his career, Justice Feinman has worked in the Courts of New York State, and his leadership in various judicial organizations is especially notable — including serving as president of the International Association of LGBT Judges. I am proud to appoint Justice Feinman to the First Department Appellate Division, where I have no doubt he will continue to serve New Yorkers with distinction.

Appointments to the Appellate Division are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Feinman will become the first out gay man to serve on the Appellate Division and only its third openly LGBT member. In 2009, Governor David Paterson appointed Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Rosalyn Richter to the First Department bench and upstate Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth A. Garry to the Albany-based Third Department appellate court.

In an email message, Feinman wrote, “I am grateful to the Governor for giving me this opportunity to serve the public of the Empire State in this new way.”

Feinman is a 1981 graduate of Columbia University, with a bachelor’s degree in French Literature and Language, and received his J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1985.

He was first elected to the bench in November 1996, winning a seat on the Civil Court in Lower Manhattan’s First Municipal District, to which he was reelected in 2006. However, in 2004, he was designated an acting justice of the Supreme Court for New York County, and in November 2007, won election to that bench. On the State Supreme Court, Feinman sat on the Civil Term, overseeing proceedings involving contract and commercial disputes, malpractice actions, and personal injury cases.

Prior to his election to the court, he served for more than seven years as principal court attorney to Judge Angela M. Mazzarelli, in her years on the Supreme Court in New York County and later on the First Judicial Department Appellate Division. Feinman earlier worked in the Legal Aid Society, first in Nassau County and then in Manhattan.

He is a former president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York and also a member of the Jewish Lawyers Guild and the New York Women’s Bar Association. In addition to his past role as president of the International Association of LGBT Judges, Feinman currently serves as the presiding member of the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association.

The governor’s October 1 announcement also named Judge Randall Eng, who sits on the Brooklyn-based Second Department Appellate Division bench, as its presiding judge, making him the first Asian American in New York history to hold that rank.