Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: February 29, 2000

Seal of the Unified Court System
Statewide Commission Fiduciary Appointments Formed
NEW YORK - The creation of the Commission on Fiduciary Appointments, a high-level panel to examine the fiduciary assignment process statewide and make recommendations for reform, today was announced by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman.

The Commission will assess the effectiveness of the current regulatory structure governing judicial appointments of guardians, guardians ad litem, receivers, referees and others that assist the courts in resolving cases, including evaluating the efficacy of existing administrative rules. The Commission's charge will include an examination of the appointment process, monetary limits on compensation, eligibility and expertise requirements for appointment and ethical standards pertaining to fiduciary assignments. The formation of the Commission is the latest step in a comprehensive program announced by Chief Judge Kaye following allegations that certain fiduciary appointments in New York City have been made on the basis of political party affiliation and service.

The 17-member commission is composed of prominent leaders of the bench, bar and  academia from across the state. It will be chaired by Sheila L. Birnbaum, a litigation partner at the New York City firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and former associate dean and law professor at New York University School of Law.

"Public trust in the judicial process depends on the ability of judges to be fair and impartial," said Chief Judge Kaye. "I am concerned about recent allegations regarding political favoritism in fiduciary appointments and am today naming the Statewide Commission on Fiduciary Appointments to conduct a thorough examination of the fiduciary assignment process in New York. The Commission will review current practices, assess the ability of the existing regulatory structure to protect against abuses in these judicial appointments and make any necessary recommendations for reform. I am grateful to Commission Chair Sheila Birnbaum and all the Commission members for their willingness to undertake this critical endeavor and look forward to their findings and recommendations."

Chief Administrative Judge Lippman said, "To ensure that fiduciary appointments are made on the basis of merit, the court system has embarked on a three-pronged program that includes investigating the individual allegations of misconduct, monitoring local practices and evaluating the effectiveness of the regulatory system governing fiduciary appointments in New York. The first two steps of the program are already underway. The Office of the Special Inspector General for Fiduciary Appointments has been created, and Administrative Judges throughout the state are assessing operational practices within their respective areas. The Commission on Fiduciary Appointments will now consider the fiduciary assignment process in its entirety, including the effectiveness of existing administrative rules, to ensure that these judicial appointments are fair and beyond reproach."

Sheila Birnbaum, the Commission Chair, said, "I have long enjoyed the privilege of litigating in the New York courts and, in that connection, have gained the highest regard for the bench and the bar in this state. I am greatly honored to be asked by the Chief Judge to head this newly formed commission that is designed to promote public confidence and respect for the judiciary. My colleagues and I recognize the gravity of the work we have been asked to undertake and are eager to contribute to this important effort."


Sheila L. Birnbaum   Member, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules and Civil Procedure; former Chair, New York State Advisory Committee on Civil Practice; former Member, American Bar Association House of Delegates; former Associate Dean and Professor of Law, New York University School of Law; former President, New York Women's Bar Association

Roger Bennet Adler  Private Practice; former President, Network of Bar Leaders; former President, Brooklyn Bar Association
Seymour Boyers  Member, Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman & Mackauf; former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department; former Administrative Judge, 11th Judicial District

Gary S. Brown  Chief Attorney, Westchester Regional Office, NYS Department of Law; former Executive Director, Fund for Modern Courts

George F. Carpinello Member, Barrett Gravante Carpinello & Stern LLP; Chair, NYS Advisory Committee on Civil Practice; former Professor of Law, Albany Law School

Howard A. Glickstein Dean, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center; former Director, President's Task Force on Civil Rights Reorganization; former General Counsel, US Commission on Civil Rights

Patricia D. Hynes  Of Counsel, Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP; former Executive Assistant United States Attorney (Southern District of New York); former Member, NYS Commission on Government Integrity

George D. Marlow  Justice, Supreme Court, 9th Judicial District; Co-Chair, NYS Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics

E. Leo Milonas  Member, Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts; former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; former Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts

Anthony R. Palermo Of Counsel, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP; former President, NYS Bar Association; former Secretary, American Bar Association

John J. Reilly  Member, Reilly & Reilly; Judicial Advisory Council, Nassau County

Barbara Paul Robinson Member, Debevoise & Plimpton (Trusts and Estates Department); former President, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
O. Peter Sherwood  Member, Kalkines, Arky, Zall & Bernstein, LLP; former Corporation Counsel, City of New York; former Solicitor General, State of New York

Rose H. Sconiers  Justice, Supreme Court, 8th Judicial District; Second Vice-President, NYS Association of Supreme Court Justices

Richard D. Simons  Member, McMahon, Grow & Getty; former Associate Judge and former Acting Chief Judge, NYS Court of Appeals; former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Third Department

James N. White  Former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Third and Fourth Departments; former Administrative Judge, 4th Judicial District

Paul J. Yesawich, Jr. Former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Third Department; former President, Cortland County Bar Association; former Commissioner, NYS Law Revision Commission