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Paul Feinman becomes first openly gay judge on state high court

Paul Feinman, a Long Island-raised judge in the

Paul Feinman, a Long Island-raised judge in the state Appellate Division, was nominated Thursday, June 15, 2017, by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals. Photo Credit: New York Law Journal / Rick Kopstein

ALBANY — The state Senate has confirmed Paul Feinman to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals, making him the first openly gay judge on New York’s top court.

While touting Feinman’s record as a judge in state courts for 20 years, supporters highlighted the significance of the occasion.

Becoming the first openly gay judge “in the 170-year history of the Court of Appeals is a historic event we have to make note of,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who is openly gay and has known Feinman for more than two decades.

Hoylman said Feinman has won the respect of colleagues and the legal community for his judicial service, but “the representation on the court” of the first gay judge “ is so important.”

Feinman, 57, grew up in Merrick and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore. He started his career as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, and has served as a judge at the midlevel Appellate Division since 2012.

“I just hope the governor chose me because he thought I was the best for the job,” Feinman said after the vote, while acknowledging the “historical marker” of the occasion. No senator opposed Feinman’s nomination.

Feinman replaces the late Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was found dead in the Hudson River in April, an apparent suicide.

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