Nassau judge named to midlevel state appellate court
Helen Voutsinas, a Nassau County judge, has been appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul to the midlevel appellate court handling appeals originating from 10 downstate counties including Nassau and Suffolk.
The appointment of Voutsinas, 47, was announced Friday afternoon by Hochul’s office. The court is the Appellate Division’s Second Department. New York State is divided into four.
The courthouse is in Brooklyn Heights, with jurisdiction over both Long Island counties, as well as Richmond, Kings, Queens, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Putnam counties.
Since 2019, Voutsinas has been a Nassau County appellate term judge, and before that she was a county district court judge. She was elected in 2018 to be a county justice. She was also previously president of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association and the Nassau County Women's Bar Association. A St. John's University School of Law graduate in 1999, Voutsinas was in private practice from 1999 to 2001, assistant town attorney for North Hempstead from 2001 to 2003, deputy majority counsel for the county legislature in 2004, and then a principal law clerk to a judge.
Voutsinas didn’t answer emails or voicemails seeking comment Friday afternoon. A call to her judicial chambers was returned by Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court system; he didn’t immediately schedule an interview.
Hochul’s other appointments announced Friday to the Second Department, according to a news release from her office: Janice Taylor, a Supreme Court Justice in Queens since 1998 and former president and current board chairwoman of the Macon B. Allen Black Bar Association, an organization of Black lawyers; Lillian Wan, a justice since January of the Kings County Supreme Court in Brooklyn and immediate past president of the Asian American Judges Association of New York; and Barry Warhit, a Westchester County Supreme Court justice since 2019 who is on the executive committee of the Justice Brandeis Law Society, a Jewish bar association.
State Senate confirmation isn’t required for these appointments to the Appellate Division, which is below the state’s highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals. The Second Department’s website lists 18 current justices on the bench.
In Voutsinas’ time presiding in Nassau courts, she has handled a range of matters, including one in April involving allegations puppy shops in Lynbrook and Hicksville sold sick dogs (Voutsinas, dismissing part of the claim but letting others stand, allowed the business to resume, but with conditions), and another in December regarding the Long Island Rail Road’s $2.6 billion Third Track project and its dispute with the Village of Garden City, which didn’t like where the railroad put utility poles and was holding up the project. (She ordered the village to grant the necessary permits for the project to go forward.)
In 2014, she presided over the guilty plea of former celebrity lawyer Dominic Barbara in a case stemming from an alleged theft of a pocketbook from a store and a domestic dispute with his ex-wife. (Voutsinas issued a conditional discharge but no jail time.)
In 2006, as president of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, she tried to help shape a part-time work policy after Nassau’s then-district attorney, Kathleen Rice, changed her predecessor’s policy and told a dozen part-time attorneys in her office — many working mothers — either to quit or work full-time.
"It's definitely not a food fight with the district attorney," Voutsinas said back then. "This just became an issue and needs to be explored."