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NYSTLA Past President Edward Gersowitz Remembers Hon. Paul Feinman

A Remembrance of Paul G. Feinman by Edward H. Gersowitz 

New York Court of Appeals Albany

The 1842 courthouse of the New York Court of Appeals in Albany.

How can one aptly memorialize a friend whom most knew only from his vaulted position as a judge?
Paul started his career as a Legal Aid attorney and then rose through the judicial ranks to become the history making first openly LGBTQ+ member of the New York State Court of Appeals.

In June 2017, it was the highlight of my tenure as President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association to appear before the New York State Senate Judiciary committee to offer testimony in support of Paul’s nomination as an Associate Judge of our high Court.

As a gay man, I was personally thrilled for Paul but also elated for the citizens of our state and legal community. I knew the mettle of the person our Court would be receiving; a kind, compassionate, deliberative intellect, a humble trailblazer the fiber of whose being was service to others. He was, as I described in my Senate testimony, a mensch.

Paul was a wonderful husband to Robert as well as a devoted son, a doting uncle, a trusted colleague and a caring friend.

Paul indeed had much love to give in his time here. He was a Francophile and each summer he would take one of his nephews or nieces to France so he could acquaint them with another culture and his love of the French language. It was a trip he designed in order to teach and expand their horizons.

Robert and he were avid New York Mets’ fans and while he deigned to attend a Yankees-Red Sox game with me, he brought his mother who is an equally avid Yankees fan.

We are all thankful that Paul and Robert found each other and while their years together were undeservedly few, the strength of their love and devotion sustained them in difficult times.

Paul was a pedagogue to the last. Perhaps the essence of his judicial philosophy is best contained in his own words, spoken in Court, describing the oath, whenever he addressed and welcomed to the bar a class of newly minted attorneys:

“The oath you have taken is not to do what is popular or easy but to pursue what is true and just under the law.”

Indeed, this prescription describes not only the Judge, but this dear righteous person as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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