Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week nominated Justice Paul Feinman, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School and openly gay associate justice at the State Supreme Court, to serve as an associate judge on the state Court of Appeals.
On Tuesday, he was confirmed by the State Senate.
Feinman’s confirmation marks the second time a Cuomo nominee on the court made history, as he replaces Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on the court, who was found dead in the Hudson River in April.
"Paul Feinman's confirmation as Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals is a major step forward for the state's judicial system," said Cuomo. "With decades of experience, Judge Feinman is a leader in his field and a trailblazer who joins the Court as its first openly gay judge. He has spent nearly his entire career serving New York courts and championing the principles of justice and fairness. With today's confirmation, we are honoring the legacy of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam and adding another supremely talented and deeply respected legal mind to the state’s highest court. I thank Chairman John Bonacic, members of the Judiciary Committee, and the Senate for their consideration of this nominee, and I congratulate Judge Feinman on his confirmation."
Feinman was elected to the Supreme Court in 2007 and appointed Associate Justice of the Appellate Division by Cuomo in 2012, after serving as an Acting Supreme Court Justice from 2004 to 2007. Before that, he was a Civil Court Judge, first elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2006.
According to officials in Cuomo’s office, Feinman was president of the International Association of LGBT Judges between 2008 and 2011, and according to the state courts’ website, he is the former president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association of Greater New York and a member of the National LGBT Bar Association.
He is also a member of the Richard C. Failla LGBT Commission, which promotes “fair treatment of LGBT issues and LGBT members of the court community,” according to Cuomo’s office.
"It is a tremendous honor to be nominated to the Court of Appeals," Feinman said, in a statement. "I thank Gov. Cuomo for this opportunity to serve on the Court of Appeals and, if confirmed, look forward to working with my distinguished colleagues on the court to continue to serve New York."
According to a New York Times wedding notice, Feinman was married in December 2013 to Jay Robert Ostergaard, who works in New York.
Feinman began his legal career at the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, Criminal Appeals Bureau, in 1985, and from 1987 to 1989 was a senior staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan, according to Cuomo’s office. From 1989 to 1996, he was a principal law clerk to Hon. Angela M. Mazzarelli. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1981 and a J.D. from University of Minnesota Law School in 1985.