The Honorable A. Gail Prudenti was appointed Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State, by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman effective December 1, 2011. As Chief Administrative Judge, she oversees the administration and operation of the statewide court system, with a budget of over $2 billion, 3,600 State and locally-paid Judges and 15,000 nonjudicial employees in over 300 locations around the state.
Prior to her appointment as Chief Administrative Judge, she served as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department in New York State, the first woman to hold that position, having been appointed thereto, in February 2002, by then-Governor George E. Pataki. Before that, she was the first woman from Suffolk County to serve as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department. Prior to ascending to the Appellate Division, Justice Prudenti was the Administrative Judge for the Tenth Judicial District (Suffolk County) for almost three years. At the time of her appointment as a District Administrative Judge, in February of 1999, Justice Prudenti was also the Surrogate of Suffolk County and was the first and only Surrogate in New York to hold the position of a District Administrative Judge.
In August 2011, then-Presiding Justice Prudenti was designated to serve as a Judge of the Court of Appeals for the hearing and determination of the appeal and any related motions in the case of Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Litigation.
Justice Prudenti’s 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. In 1996, during her tenure as Surrogate, Justice Prudenti was also designated as an Acting Supreme Court Justice and received the additional responsibilities of presiding over a dedicated Guardianship Part. After six years as the Surrogate, Justice Prudenti was reelected to the Supreme Court bench.
She earned her law degree from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, which also awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2004. She graduated from Marymount College with honors. Her first position was in the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court where she was a Clerk and then a Law Assistant. For two years following her service in the Surrogate’s Court, she served as an Assistant District Attorney for Suffolk County. Over the next decade, she was a private practitioner specializing in trusts and estates and was special counsel to the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s Widows and Orphans Fund. She has had extensive litigation experience in all the Surrogate’s Courts in the metropolitan area.
Her legal writings are extensive. Over 1,000 of Justice Prudenti’s decisions have been published and she has contributed articles to many publications, such as “The New York Law Journal,” “Newsday,” “The Suffolk Lawyer” and “The Jurist.” She has also published handbooks for guardians ad litem and has written extensively on guardianship proceedings.
Additionally, Justice Prudenti has been a frequent lecturer throughout Suffolk County, Long Island, and the State, appearing at seminars and other functions sponsored by the Suffolk Academy of Law, the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Surrogate’s Association, the Office of Court Administration, the University of the State of New York at Stony Brook, Touro Law Center, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, to name a few.
The Judge is a member of the Advisory Panel of Judges of the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust Program, a member of the Council of Chief Judges of the National Center for State Courts, a former chairperson of the Office of Court Administration’s Mental Health Curriculum Committee for Trial Judges, co-chair of the Chief Judge’s Task Force on Delay in the Courts, a member of the Chief Judge’s Commission on Public Access to Court Records, a former member of the Chief Administrative Judge’s Judicial Legislative Group and a member of the OCA’s Gender Bias and Anti-Discrimination Panel. In addition, the Judge is a member of the Judicial Section of the American Bar Association, the former Presiding Member of the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association, a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and the New York State Women’s Bar Association, a former co-chair of the Surrogate’s Court Committee of the Suffolk County Bar Association, a member of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, which she helped found, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Suffolk County Columbian Lawyers Association.
Justice Prudenti is an accomplished administrator and an experienced supervisor of large-scale court operations, including one of the busiest appellate courts in the United States. As Presiding Justice, she served on the Judiciary’s primary decision-making body, the Administrative Board of the Courts, which provides direction and establishes statewide policies and practices for New York State’s Unified Court System. In her various leadership roles, the judge has developed innovative programs and instituted many initiatives to enhance the administration of justice and promote the public’s trust and confidence in the courts.
While appreciative of the recognition and numerous awards she has received throughout the years from assorted groups and organizations, Justice Prudenti feels her greatest honor has been the opportunity to serve the people of the State of New York.