After 23 distinguished years on the bench, Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti announced on Thursday, July 27, that she will be retiring from the New York State Unified Court System, effective July 30, to assume the position of Executive Director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University and serve as a special adviser to the law school’s dean, Eric Lane.
Judge Prudenti stated, “It is very bittersweet for me to leave the court system, where I have spent the vast majority of my professional career, and where I have gained invaluable experience and developed treasured friendships. I feel deeply grateful and extremely fortunate to have had such a wonderful and rewarding career in the courts, and to have had the opportunity to work with amazingly talented and dedicated individuals, especially our fabulous Chief Judge, Jonathan Lippman. I cannot thank him enough for having so much faith in me and for being such a wonderful leader, mentor and friend. He has proven, time and again, that one person can still make a difference. I am also incredibly thankful to our outstanding Presiding Justices, First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Deputy Chief Administrative Judges and Administrative Judges with whom it has been a true pleasure to work, as well as all of the judges and non-judicial personnel, who repeatedly went above and beyond to ensure that justice could still be delivered even in the most challenging of circumstances. While I will greatly miss the courts, I am excited to begin the next chapter of my career at Hofstra, where I hope to continue advancing the cause of justice by assisting some of the most vulnerable among us the children and families of our state.”
Chief Judge Lippman said, “I have been fortunate to enjoy a very close working relationship with Judge Prudenti for more than two decades. She has been a remarkable Chief Administrative Judge over the past four years, demonstrating her abilities as a leader and consensus-builder who has a special gift for motivating people to do their very best. Gail Prudenti has been a guiding force for the court system during difficult and trying times for the Judiciary and the public we serve. Her wisdom, compassion and resilience have been a beacon of strength for me and for our colleagues. She is a court administrator like no other in the country, whose outstanding leadership, innovative spirit and tireless determination have resulted in groundbreaking strides in increasing access to justice for all New Yorkers. I am also grateful for her tireless work in representing the Judiciary before the Legislature during budget negotiations, as well as for her outstanding efforts in forging strong, enduring relationships with our partners in government and the justice community. I will sorely miss working side by side with Judge Prudenti, but will always cherish our friendship and our years of working together as brother and sister in the common purpose of equal justice for all in New York.”
Additionally, Judge Lippman announced the appointment of Judge Prudenti to both the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Access to Justice for Children and the newly established Permanent Commission on Access to Justice. “I am so pleased that the Judiciary and those served by the New York state courts will continue to benefit from Judge Prudenti’s vast expertise and experience in the area of access to justice, with her participation on these two critically important advisory panels complementing her efforts in her new role at Hofstra University’s School of Law,” added Judge Lippman.
Judge Prudenti’s exemplary judicial career began in 1991 when she was elected to the New York State Supreme Court where she served until 1995, at which time she began her term as the first woman elected Surrogate of Suffolk County. During her tenure as Surrogate, Judge Prudenti was also designated an Acting Supreme Court Justice and received the additional responsibilities of presiding over a dedicated Guardianship Part. After six years as the Surrogate, Judge Prudenti was re-elected to the Supreme Court Bench. For nearly three years, Judge Prudenti served as the Administrative Judge for the Tenth Judicial District.
After ten years at the trial court level, Judge Prudenti became the first woman from Suffolk County to serve as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department. In February 2002, then-Governor George E. Pataki appointed Judge Prudenti to serve as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department, a position she held for almost a decade. Judge Prudenti was also designated to serve as a Judge of the Court of Appeals for the hearing and determination of the appeal and related motions in the case of Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Litigation.
In December 2011, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman appointed Judge Prudenti as Chief Administrative Judge of the New York state courts. Since assuming her position as Chief Administrative Judge, she has streamlined the Office of Court Administration, reduced backlogs and worked to achieve passage of budgets that have put the courts on the “road to recovery” after years of austerity. She enhanced security for all court officers by providing the tools needed to perform their jobs including body armor; was instrumental in launching countless innovative initiatives such as the Pro Bono Scholars Program and the Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative; and helped achieve passage of significant legislation, including bills to expand e-filing and create additional, much-needed Family Court judgeships. Judge Prudenti served as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Uniform Bar Examination and currently chairs the Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline.
In her new position at Hofstra University, Judge Prudenti will lead the law school’s Center for Children, Families and the Law to help provide more effective representation for children and families in crisis, bringing her extensive court experience and penchant for fostering partnerships to assist the Center in its mission.