Howard Arnold Levine




Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, 1993-2003


by Laura Etlinger and Tim O'Neal Lorah

An independent thinker, a common sense approach and a devoted family man – these descriptions show three of the most important qualities Judge Levine brought to all of his legal endeavors in the public service, including his tenure on the Court of Appeals. His early experiences as a prosecutor and family court judge – perhaps two of the most influential experiences in a lengthy and distinguished career – clearly served to shape and define his work as an appellate judge, both on the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court and, most importantly, throughout his tenure on the New York Court of Appeals.

The tradition of practicing law runs deep in Judge Levine’s family. His parents, Henry and Cecilia (née Agree) Levine, were both lawyers. Judge Levine was especially proud of the fact that his mother practiced law at a time when few women were members of the legal profession or taken seriously as valued members of the Bar.


Born in Troy, New York in 1932, Judge Levine was raised in Schenectady, New York with his sister. He graduated from Nott Terrace High School, and then attended Yale University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 and a law degree in 1956. He married Barbara Joan Segall in 1954.

After graduating from Yale Law School, and following a one-year post-graduate research and teaching appointment, Judge Levine began his legal career as an associate in the New York City firm of Hughes, Hubbard, Blair and Reed, concentrating on commercial and federal litigation. After two and one-half years, he returned to Schenectady with his wife and two small children. In 1961, he began his long and distinguished career in public service as a part-time Assistant District Attorney in Schenectady County. He was drawn to work at the District Attorney’s office in order to gain valuable trial experience. As the Judge sometimes remarked, because he was “the fourth-ranking assistant out of four,” he spent most of his time in the lower criminal courts – yet he commanded the respect and esteem of those around him. Prosecuting traffic violations and similar matters in town justice courts gave Judge Levine an appreciation for the common-sense approach to solving legal disputes exhibited by lay justices of the peace. One such case was a prosecution for drunk driving that ended in a guilty verdict. The case was not tried in the Justice’s parlor, but in the Town garage in order to accommodate the large number of attendees and spectators. That verdict resulted in a reversal by the Court of Appeals on the basis of perceived judicial bias in favor of the prosecution. Indeed, in its opinion, the Court specifically cited with disapproval a colloquy on the record when, in response to a defense request for a specific jury instruction, the lay justice’s response was “Is that all right, Mr. Levine?”

In 1966, Judge Levine was elected District Attorney for the County, a post he held until 1970. The time he served as a prosecutor during the 1960s was a period of social turmoil and marked by important legal battles in the area of criminal and civil rights, student rebellions, and the beginning of the Vietnam War. This was a period during which, in Judge Levine’s words, the United States Supreme Court “constitutionalized state criminal procedure,” in such cases as Mapp v. Ohio and Miranda v. Arizona. Although Judge Levine generally agreed with these rulings, which extended important safeguards to criminal defendants, he has stated that he considers John Marshall Harlan, the Warren Court’s lead dissenter, his judicial role model.1

In Judge Levine’s own words, it is Justice Harlan’s “approach of incremental, common law law-making” that he admires – an approach that allows the law to develop slowly and incrementally “to see if the changes work.”2 A clear hallmark of Judge Levine’s thoughtful jurisprudence is his belief that concepts of morality, justice, and fairness are an important part of the judicial process: “these values, of course, should not merely be based on the personal moral code of the judge, but rather the historically enduring standards of righteous conduct and principles of justice that reflect the best in our national character.”3 Indeed, according to the Judge, there is a “creative role” for a judge to play in finding and demonstrating how issues in the concrete situations of legal disputes bear a relationship to important values, and in refining and articulating those values in a way that reinforces them and uses them to add to the coherence of the law.

Judge Levine’s appreciation for, and belief in, the development of the common law through incremental steps was a frequent focus of his writings and speeches.4 As a judge, he would follow this approach, and become known and appreciated as an independent thinker who exhibited a “balanced approach” to the cases and the litigants who came before him.5

His Judicial Career

Judge Levine’s judicial career began in 1971, when he was elected to the position of Family Court Judge of Schenectady County. During his tenure as a Family Court Judge, and continuing afterward, Judge Levine demonstrated his commitment to improving the State’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. He was active in shaping the law in this area through his service on various boards and commissions, including the New York State Temporary Commission on Child Welfare (1974-1982) and the New York State Temporary Commission on the Recodification of the Family Court Act (1980-1984). He served as President of the Association of Family Court Judges of the State of New York (1979-1980), Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Association of Family Court Judges of the State of New York, and as the first Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee on Juvenile Justice (1979-1985), in addition to being a member of the Independent Review Board of the New York State Division for Youth (1975-1980). Other board positions involving child welfare and related issues have included the Judicial Conference Rules and Advisory Committee on the Family Court (1973-1980), the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board of the State Division of Criminal Justice Services (1975-1980), the Governor’s Select Commission on the Future of the State/Local Mental Health System (1984-1985), Judicial Conference Task Force on Permanency Planning for Children (1986-1993), and the New York State Department of Social Services Committee on Adoption (1974-1977). In addition, Judge Levine was a member of the New York State Supreme Court Justices’ Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions (1985-1993), and the Executive Committee of the New York District Attorneys’ Association.

Judge Levine’s “abiding interest in the welfare of children,”6 is further demonstrated by the many honors he has received in this area, including the New York State Division for Youth’s Service to Youth Award in 1980. In 1987, the New York State Bar Association created the Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare to be given annually by the State Bar Association’s Committee on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare. Following his retirement from the Court of Appeals in 2003, former law clerks, colleagues, family and friends announced the creation of the Howard A. Levine Fellowship in Juvenile Justice at Albany Law School. The Fellowship is awarded to Albany Law School students who exhibit outstanding academic accomplishment and an exemplary commitment to juvenile justice and improving the lives of children.

Undisputedly, the experience of serving as a family court judge had a profound effect on Judge Levine. In describing a colleague, Judge Edward O. Spain, as the type of family court judge “who became exalted by the very fact that a family court judge uniquely deals with the most basic fundamental aspects of life, with the opportunity to turn lives around and [whose] experience colors and affects and inspires every part of [his] remaining public life,” Judge Levine could have been aptly describing himself. Judge Levine counts the time he spent as a prosecutor and family court judge during the 1960s and 1970s – a time of “tremendous social turmoil as well as rapid change in the law” – as the most influential prior professional experience for his service as an appellate court judge. The Judge himself once remarked that it was during this period that he learned of the concept of “anomie” – public unrest caused by the widespread perception that society’s norms are not being enforced. During this period of time, the Judge also became keenly sensitized to the converse of “anomie” – that is, societal unrest attributable to the view that the laws are either unjust or unjustly enforced.7

Following a decade on the Family Court, Judge Levine was elected as a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Fourth Judicial District. After only a single year on Supreme Court, he was appointed to the New York State Appellate Division, Third Department. During his 11 years as an Associate Justice on the Third Department, Judge Levine distinguished himself as a significant and guiding member of the Court. While sitting on the Third Department bench, Judge Levine authored more than 950 majority or dissenting opinions and, throughout his time on the Appellate Division, many of his dissents formed the basis of majority opinions subsequently authored by the Court of Appeals. Indeed, during the time Judge Levine sat with the Third Department, clerks at the Court of Appeals Aused to joke that it was a relief to see an appeal of a case where he had written the majority or dissenting opinion. Then, they said, their job was easy: “just follow Judge Levine.”8

Two of Judge Levine’s writings at the Appellate Division are of particular importance. In the first opinion, Matter of Jamie TT, 191 A.D.2d 132 (3d Dep’t 1993), the Third Department became one of the first courts in the country to hold that a child who was the subject of an abuse or neglect petition had an independent right to effective assistance of counsel. At the time, it was a ruling that was unprecedented. The second opinion worthy of mention is Rios v. Altamont Farms, 100 A.D.2d 405 (3d Dep’t 1984), which involved the rights of migrant farm workers to enforce default judgments entered in Puerto Rico against New York State apple growers. The trial court held in favor of the migrant workers and the Third Department reversed. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division on the reasoning and rationale in Judge Levine’s dissent below.

Judge Levine’s preeminence as an appellate judge was also recognized by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nominations. While serving on the Appellate Division, Judge Levine was recommended eight times for appointment to the Court of Appeals. The last of these was in 1993, when he was appointed to the Court by Governor Mario Cuomo. On the morning of August 13, 1993, the Governor called Judge Levine’s home in Schenectady and asked the Judge’s wife if she would like to see her husband appointed to the Court of Appeals. Mrs. Levine stated that she would, so the governor then called Judge Levine’s Appellate Division chambers with the news of his selection.9

At the time of his appointment, Governor Cuomo described Judge Levine’s opinions as “notable for their clarity, their precision and their scholarship.”10 The Governor further stated that “Justice Levine’s character, temperament, professional aptitude and experience have earned him a seat on this already prestigious bench.”11 Judge Levine’s colleagues at the Appellate Division held him in similarly high regard. At the time of his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Justice John T. Casey, who served on the Appellate Division with Judge Levine, noted that Judge Levine’s “philosophical approach to the law is not definable by ideological label . . . . Of the legal issues that came before our court, he made his own in depth analyses, based on logic, consonant with reason and strongly supported by state and federal judicial precedent.”12 Then-Presiding Justice of the Third Department, Leonard A. Weiss, described Judge Levine as a “firm believer in the constitution of the state of New York and a strict interpreter of the statutes.”13

His Tenure on the New York Court of Appeals

Judge Levine’s jurisprudence on the Court of Appeals reflects his careful consideration of precedent and his absolute reluctance to engage in judicial activism in order to reach a particular outcome. As the Judge’s clerks and chambers staff learned on their first day of work, Judge Levine’s decision-making process remained the same, whether the case involved a straightforward matter of statutory interpretation or a significant social or complex constitutional issue; his decision making was always driven by the law with no predetermined destination or prior commitment to outcome. The Judge’s approach to the decision-making process was clear. Not surprisingly, it was also both forward and backward looking: it was reinforcement of and a renewed commitment to the common-law methodology, with the hope that such an approach avoids self-inflicted wounds by the judiciary when its constraints are ignored and attracts the support of the two other estates of the legal profession – practicing and academic attorneys.

Matter of David Griffin, 88 N.Y.2d 674 (1996), is one such example. In Griffin, the Court was confronted with a constitutional challenge to a prison policy mandating attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and conditioning visitation benefits on such attendance. Writing for the majority of the Court, Judge Levine concluded that such a policy, which denied the inmate’s family visitation privileges for his refusal to attend the only alcohol and drug treatment program offered by the facility, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As the decision makes clear, the religious-orientated practices of Alcoholics Anonymous “necessarily entail[s] religious exercise” and the state’s exercise of its coercive power, through its policy of mandatory attendance, to advance religion could not withstand constitutional scrutiny. The Court’s decision in Griffin has been cited approvingly by state and federal courts in many jurisdictions throughout the United States.

Judge Levine also wrote an important decision about a criminal defendant’s right to counsel. In People v. Cohen, 90 N.Y.2d 632 (1997), the defendant was implicated in the murder of a gas station clerk. The gun that had been used in the crime had been stolen from a nearby garage and an informant had told the police that the defendant was one of three people who had stolen the weapon. The informant also alleged that the defendant had told him about the plan to rob the gas station. Defendant retained counsel with respect to the stolen gun charge.

The police subsequently questioned the defendant about the murder at the gas station. During questioning, without defendant’s counsel present, the police intermingled questions about the garage robbery. During questioning, the defendant incriminated himself in the gas station murder. Writing for a unanimous Court, Judge Levine noted that the defendant’s constitutional right to counsel was violated where, as here, the police were personally aware that the defendant was represented by counsel in a prior related crime, and then interrogated the defendant on the subsequent crime while intermingling questions regarding the first crime on which defendant had obtained representation.

Judge Levine wrote a number of significant search and seizure decisions during his years on the Court of Appeals. His “devotion to fair play”14 is evident in a survey of these decisions. Although most of his opinions (both majority and dissenting) were in favor of defendants’ rights, he also upheld police and prosecutorial actions when the governing standards led to this result.

Decisions upholding the rights of criminal defendants included People v. Banks, 85 N.Y.2d 558 (1995), in which Judge Levine, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the police search of a vehicle was unconstitutional despite the defendant’s consent where the search occurred when the police, who stopped the vehicle for a seatbelt violation, continued the detention of defendant without sufficient cause. Another important search and seizure decision in which Judge Levine held in favor of defendants’ rights was Matter of Muhammad F., 94 N.Y.2d 136 (1999), in which the Court held unconstitutional a program of the New York City Police Department pursuant to which taxicabs in targeted neighborhoods were stopped at random for safety checks. Other decisions authored by Judge Levine in which the Court found searches and seizures unconstitutional include People v. Moore, 97 N.Y.2d 209 (2002) (holding unconstitutional a body cavity search incident to an arrest) and People v. Jackson, 99 N.Y.2d 125 (2002) (holding unconstitutional a random road block stop). He also authored dissents in which he concluded that the search or seizure was unconstitutional.15

However, Judge Levine also authored an important decision upholding the validity of a search in the case of Matter of Gregory M., 82 N.Y.2d 588 (1993). In that case, the Court upheld the search of a high school student’s book bag, applying a balancing test more deferential to the State in the context of a school search. He also authored a dissent in which he would have found the search and seizure constitutional.16

Judge Levine’s respect for the rule of law, notwithstanding the unjust result of its application, is also evidenced by his decision in People v. Thompson, 83 N.Y.2d 477 (1994). In that case, he wrote a decision upholding the Rockefeller Drug Laws while articulating his opinion that the harsh penalties were not justified by the criminal behavior involved:

That is not to say that we disagree with the strongly held convictions of our dissenting colleagues and of the majority at the Appellate Division in the instant case that the harsh mandatory treatment of drug offenders embodied in the 1973 legislation has failed to deter drug trafficking or control the epidemic of drug abuse in society, and has resulted in the incarceration of many offenders whose crimes arose out of their own addiction and for whom the cost of imprisonment would have been better spent on treatment and rehabilitation. The experience of the last two decades has clearly vindicated the doubts Chief Judge Breitel expressed in People v. Broadie on the wisdom of the draconian drug sentencing laws. Nonetheless, even if the legislative choice was unwise, the central holding of Broadie still stands, namely, that the Legislature was not irrational in its view of the gravity of the offenses, the danger posed by the offenders and the penological purposes to be served and, therefore, the punishment imposed for defendant’s crime here in the present state of our knowledge was not grossly disproportionate or cruel and unusual in the constitutional sense. Reform of the penological policy choices in combating the drug scourge lies with the legislative, not the judicial, branch.17

In 1997, Judge Levine also authored an opinion in Matter of Janes (Lincoln First Bank), 90 N.Y.2d 41, that has had a significant impact on what has come to be known as “the prudent investor rule.” Historically, when a settlor creates a trust, it is the trustee that must decide how the trust proceeds are to be managed. In King v. Talbot, 40 N.Y. 76 (1869), the Court of Appeals established standards that guided the courts of New York, as well as the courts of many other jurisdictions. King stands for the proposition that a trustee may invest in such securities as would be acquired by prudent persons of discretion and intelligence. The Court also established another important principle: a trustee may not insulate himself from liability for one imprudent investment by forcing the beneficiary to accept or reject his investments as a whole. This principle – that diversification does not absolve the trustee from liability for an imprudent investment – has remained an important principle of New York law.

Janes seems certain to become a leading case for the converse proposition: a trustee who fails to diversify investments takes a significant risk of liability for breach of fiduciary duty. In Janes, the decedent left behind an estate of $3,500,000, more than half of which consisted of shares of Eastman Kodak stock. By will, the decedent created several trusts, and Lincoln First Bank’s predecessor had been named as trustee. At the time of death in 1973, the Kodak stock sold for $135 a share. The Bank retained the Kodak stock, although the price continued to drop – to $63 per share by the end of 1974, and to $40 per share by early 1978. When, in 1981, the Bank sought a judicial settlement of its account, the beneficiaries of the trusts objected, contending that the Bank had not fulfilled its obligations under the prudent investor rule.

The Court in Janes affirmed an Appellate Division order holding the trustee liable for breaching its fiduciary duty by retaining such a large concentration of Kodak stock. Writing for the Court, Judge Levine declined to impose any absolute duty to diversify, but indicated that the failure to diversify would nevertheless be a significant factor in evaluating the conduct of the fiduciary.

Finally, Judge Levine also wrote several decisions that wrestled with the application of New York State’s statutory death penalty provisions. In Francois v. Dolan, 95 N.Y.2d 33 (2000), the Court was presented with the question of whether a capital defendant has a right to enter a guilty plea which, in effect, would remove any possibility that a death sentence could be imposed. Under the law at the time, a district attorney had 120 days from the date of the defendant’s arraignment to serve a “notice of intent” to seek a death sentence. Prior to the filing of such notice, however, the defendant had offered to plead guilty. The district attorney opposed the guilty plea and instead filed the notice required to seek the death penalty. The county court judge refused to accept defendant’s plea of guilty and defendant appealed, arguing that a defendant should, in all cases, have a right to plead guilty prior to the charges brought against him.

In Francois, the Court concluded that a defendant had no such “absolute” right to plead guilty. The Court noted that the statutory scheme required a jury trial for the adjudication of guilt stage and then, should be defendant be convicted, a mandatory second sentencing proceeding, before a jury, to determine the ultimate penalty. An absolute right to plead guilty prior to verdict would render both the jury determination and the possibility of a death sentence moot. Writing for the Court, Judge Levine noted that, to hold otherwise, “would inevitably result, in the most heinous or high profile cases, in an unseemly race to the courthouse between defense and prosecution to see whether a guilty plea or notice of intent to seek the death penalty will be filed first.”18 The impact of such an unseemly race would “undeniably preclude the thorough, fully deliberative decision making on whether to seek the death penalty.”19

The Court was called upon to interpret the death penalty statute again a year later in People v. Edwards, 96 N.Y.2d 445 (2001). In Edwards, the defendant was indicted on two counts of murder – one in the first degree and one in the second – and a charge of second degree criminal possession of a weapon. The prosecution filed a timely notice of intent to seek the death penalty but, in the following month, the prosecution and the defendant entered into a plea arrangement which would result in the defendant receiving a sentence of 25 years to life in exchange for his cooperation in the prosecution of his co-defendants.

After the defendant’s guilty plea had been entered (but before sentencing), the Court had decided a case striking the plea provisions from the death penalty statute. Those provisions had permitted a defendant, who had a death penalty notice pending, to plead guilty to first-degree murder with the permission of the court and the consent of the prosecution and avoid a capital sentence. As a result of that decision, the defendant in Edwards moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that the perceived constitutional defect that led to the plea provisions being struck impermissibly burdened his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury.

County Court denied the defendant’s motion and the Court of Appeals agreed. Writing for the Court, Judge Levine noted that the defendant had entered a valid guilty plea under the law that existed at the time the plea was accepted and, even if the plea provisions were constitutionally defective at the time the defendant entered his plea and that plea had been entered into for the sole purpose of avoiding the death penalty, there was no constitutional infirmity under either the Fifth or Sixth Amendments.

These cases speak volumes about Judge Levine’s approach to the law and the breadth of issues that came before him during his tenure on the Court. Publicly, he has often noted that his own approach was modeled after Judge Hugh R. Jones‘ rule of law model: “of neutrality and objectivity and of shunning result-oriented decision making” and Judge Jones’ description of the qualities of an ideal high court common law judge: utter neutrality, institutional loyalty, objective and rigorous analysis, and a commitment to the common-law tradition of incremental change. All of these are qualities that embody Judge Levine’s work on the Court and his own method of judging. Indeed, he embodies this ideal of a common-law judge: “Judges, practicing lawyers, legal teachers and scholars constitute a vital collective enterprise for the orderly development of the law and its application in a way that both promotes stability and confidence in the rule of law, yet reflects our most enduring values as a people. We should never forget Chief Judge Cardozo‘s view of the lawyer as an ‘instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice.'”20

In keeping with the spirit of Justice Harlan, Judge Levine has often been thought of as the lead dissenter on the Kaye Court. In the course of his career as a jurist, however, Judge Levine’s mindset regarding the usefulness of dissents changed dramatically. When he was on the Appellate Division, Judge Levine would use a dissent to essentially write a brief for reversal at the Court of Appeals. At the Court of Appeals, however, his mindset was different. “When you are on a court of last resort, even if you disagree there is not a great point in dissenting. I would have to feel very strongly that the Court was off base, that posterity would take another look at it and maybe come to a different conclusion. If I thought the Court was really off the wall I would want to weaken its precedent with a very strong, hopefully incisive dissent that would show that this is not a very good majority writing.”21

When he retired from the Court, Judge Levine had been a lawyer for over 47 years, more than 30 of which were spent serving the citizens of New York as a member of the State’s judiciary. Until his mandatory retirement from the Court at the age of 70, there hung a small, framed certificate in his chambers that set the tone for every matter that came before him: simply, it read, “Do No Harm.” It was the mandate he lived by and encouraged others to embrace fully in both their professional and personal lives.

Judge Levine was affectionately known to his colleagues, clerks, chambers staff, and Court personnel as “HAL” (which stands for Howard A. Levine). As is customary practice at the Court, shorthand references to the Judges are often derived from the initials in their first, middle and last names. At his retirement dinner, an emotional night for the Judge, his wife Barbara, his family and all those who attended, his clerks and other Court personnel performed a musical revue that they had written to honor the Judge and the legacy he was leaving behind. It was titled, appropriately, “Our Pal HAL.”

His Life and Work After the Court

Upon his retirement from the Court of Appeals in January 2003, Judge Levine was named the first Justice Robert H. Jackson Distinguished Professor at Albany Law School, a professorship that was newly endowed at the Law School. In that capacity, Judge Levine taught administrative law and devoted himself to the Law School’s appellate advocacy program. He also worked on a faculty initiative to explore ways to incorporate more practical lawyering skills into the doctrinal courses of the Law School. At the time of his designation as the Jackson Distinguished Professor of Law, Judge Levine noted: “[w]hile, of course, one cannot leave the Court of Appeals and treasured colleagues without regrets, I am very excited at the prospect of returning to teach at Albany Law School. Both my parents received their legal education there, so I consider it part of my heritage.”22 Judge Levine also serves as distinguished jurist-in-residence on the Loudonville campus of Siena College. His commitment and dedication to the youth of this State and, in particular, this geographic region, remain unparalleled.

Additionally, Judge Levine signed on as senior counsel at Albany’s largest law firm, Whiteman Osterman and Hanna. At Whiteman, Judge Levine is a part of the litigation group, focusing on complex commercial cases and, consistent with his strong belief in alternative dispute resolution, he also heads the Firm’s newly formed arbitration and mediation practice group. He has also served as an expert witness on various facets of New York law – notably New York State’s Administrative Procedures Act.

Judge Levine has received numerous honors and accolades during his time on the bench and in the years since he has left the Court. In addition to those cited earlier, in 2003, Judge Levine received the New York State Bar Association’s annual Gold Medal Award, the highest honor given to a lawyer or judge by the Association. In presenting the award to Judge Levine, then-president of the Association, Lorraine Power Tharp noted: “His clear, intelligent and independent voice, and his long-standing commitment to upholding fairness in the courtroom, protecting the rights of children and helping to ensure safety in our communities, have earned him wide-ranging respect and a legion of admirers.”23


Judge Levine and his wife, Barbara, had three children: Neil, Ruth, and James. Neil is a partner with the Albany law firm of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna, the same Firm where the Judge now practices. Ruth Levine Sussman, a Judge of the New York City Criminal Court and Acting Supreme Court Justice, passed away in August 2005 following a lengthy and determined battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband David and two wonderful daughters, Jane and Becky. The Levine’s younger son James, also a lawyer, currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. The Judge and Mrs. Levine have seven grandchildren: Emily, Matt, Jane, Becky, Noah, Ari, and Jesse. The Levines also have a very close relationship with their children-in-law: Neil’s wife Meg, who serves as Director of the New York State Office for Technology; Ruth’s husband David Sussman, who is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of MTV Networks; and James’s wife Carolyn, a pediatrician-neonatologist currently practicing at Bellevue Woman’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center.


This biography appears in The Judges of the New York Court of Appeals: A Biographical History, ed. Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007). It has not been updated since publication.


Sources Consulted

Keynote Address by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, Hugh R. Jones Lecture, Albany Law School, March 31, 2003.

Keynote Address by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, The Regulation of Foreign-Educated Lawyers in New York: The Past, Present, and Future of New York’s Role in the Regulation of the International Practice of Law, C.V. Starr Lecture, New York Law School, April 22, 2003.

Introductory Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine to the New York State-Federal Judicial Council Symposium on Post Conviction Review, May 15, 2001.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, Annual Albany Country Bar Dinner Honoring the Judges of the New York Court of Appeals, February 7, 2002.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Ulster Country Bar Association, September 26, 2002.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, Distinguished Jurist in Residence, Siena College, February 12, 2003.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine, New York State Bar Center Presentation of the Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, June 4, 2002.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine to the Albany County Bar Association, Centennial 100 Day Celebration, September 2000.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine to the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association, upon receipt of the Robert L Haig Award, May 19, 2001.

Remarks by the Honorable Howard A. Levine to the Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction, New York City, January 21, 2003.


Published Writings Include:

Introduction, A Tribute to Justice Robert H. Jackson, Albany Law School Magazine 23 (Spring/Summer 2004).

Keynote Address, The Regulation of Foreign-Educated Lawyers in New York: The Past, Present, and Future of New York’s Role in the Regulation of the International Practice of Law, 47 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 631 (2003).

Lecture, Hugh R. Jones Lecture at Albany Law School, 67 Alb. L. Rev. 1 (2003)

Foreword, Deciding Cases in “The Common Law Tradition”: A Productive and Innovative Year for the Court of Appeals in Business and Commercial Litigation, 48 Syracuse L. Rev. 355 (1998).

Juvenile Symposium, Preadjudicatory Confessions and Consent Searches: Placing the Juvenile on the Same Constitutional Footing as an Adult, 57 B.U. L. Rev. 179 (1977) (with Fred Cohen and Stanley Z. Fisher).

Standards’ Recommendations on Dispositions: A Panel Discussion, 57 B.U. L. Rev. 754 (1977) (with Fred Cohen and Stanley Z. Fisher).

Youthful Offender Under the New York Criminal Procedure Law, 36 Alb. L. Rev. 241 (1972).

Symposium, New York’s New Penal Law: Justifiable Use of Force Under Article 35 of the Penal Law of New York, 18 Buffalo L. Rev. 211 (1968).



  1. John Caher, Self Described ‘Centrist’ at Court of Appeals Retires, N.Y.L.J., Dec. 2, 2002, at 1, col. 4.
  2. Id.
  3. Howard A. Levine, Lecture: Hugh R. Jones Lecture at Albany Law School, 67 Alb. L. Rev. 1, 17 (2003).
  4. See, e.g., Howard A. Levine, Lecture: Hugh R. Jones Lecture at Albany Law School, 67 Alb. L. Rev. 1 (2003); Jones Lecture; Haig Award Speech, at 8-9; Judge Howard A. Levine, Keynote Address: The Regulation of Foreign-Educated Lawyers in New York: The Past, Present, and Future of New York’s Role in the Regulation of the International Practice of Law, 47 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 631, 654 (2003).
  5. See Jason J. Legg, State Constitutional Commentary: High Court Study: New York’s Court of Appeals: Howard A. Levine, Paladin of the State, 59 Alb. Law Rev. 1879, 1880 & n.12 (1996).
  6. John Caher, Self Described ‘Centrist’ at Court of Appeals Retires, N.Y.L.J., Dec. 2, 2002, at 1, col. 4.
  7. Howard A. Levine, Lecture, Hugh R. Jones Lecture at Albany Law School, 67 Alb. L. Rev. at 5-6 (2003).
  8. Id. at 1.
  9. Id.
  10. See, Legg, supra, at 1880 (quoting Kevin Sack, Cuomo Names Republican to Court of Appeals Seat, N.Y. Times, Aug. 13, 1993, at B4). See also Caher, supra.
  11. Kevin Sack, Cuomo Names Republican to Court of Appeals, N.Y. Times, Aug. 13, 1993, at B4. Others members of the Bench and Bar had similar comments. Indeed, Chief Judge Kaye referred to Judge Levine as a “deep and scholarly thinker” who possessed a “great caring and sensitivity for people.” Id. Archibald R. Murray, then-President of the New York State Bar Association, remarked that Aeven a cursory review of his opinions reveals the character of the man “a thoughtful and caring human being with a generosity of spirit.” John Caher, Levine OK’d for High Court, Times Union (Albany), Sept. 8, 1993, at A1.
  12. Gary Spencer, Levine Named to Court of Appeals, N.Y.L.J., Aug. 13, 1993, at 1.
  13. Id.
  14. Jean D’Alessandro, Judge Levine: A Survey of His Most Influential Court of Appeals Decisions – 1993-2002, 19 Touro L. Rev. 451, 452 (2003).
  15. See, e.g., People v. Robinson, 97 N.Y.2d 341 (1997) (Levine, J., dissenting).
  16. See People v. Spencer, 84 N.Y.2d 749 (1995) (Levine, J., dissenting).
  17. People v. Thompson, 83 N.Y.2d 477, 478 (1994) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
  18. 95 N.Y.2d at 39.
  19. Id.
  20. Judge Howard A. Levine, Keynote Address: The Regulation of Foreign-Educated Lawyers in New York: The Past, Present, and Future of New York’s Role in the Regulation of the International Practice of Law, 47 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 631, 654 (2003).
  21. John Caher, Self-Described ‘Centrist’ at Court of Appeals Retires, N.Y.L.J., Dec. 2, 2002, at 1, col. 4.
  22. Albany Law School/Union University News, Judge Levine Named Albany Law School Professor, May 21, 2002.
  23. Law Beat, Times Union (Albany), Jan. 16, 2003.
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