Dianne Renwick named first woman of color as Presiding Justice of the First Department
New York has yet again made a monumental stride towards diversity and representation with the appointment of Justice Dianne T. Renwick as the Presiding Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department. Governor Kathy Hochul announced the historic decision yesterday, marking Justice Renwick as the first woman of color to hold this significant position since the First Department’s establishment in 1894.
“New Yorkers deserve a thoughtful, attentive and independent leader of the First Department, and I’m proud to make a historic appointment in Justice Dianne Renwick as Presiding Justice,” said Gov. Hochul. “With her extensive experience and diverse background, I’m confident that Justice Renwick will bring honor and integrity to New York State’s judiciary and serve New Yorkers with fairness and impartiality.”
Justice Renwick, a lifelong resident of The Bronx and currently the Acting Presiding Justice in the Appellate Division for the First Department, made history in 2008 when Governor David Paterson appointed her to the Appellate Division. She became the first woman of color to serve in the First Department, reflecting a milestone in the state’s judicial history. In addition to her remarkable contributions in the court, Justice Renwick chairs the First Department’s Committee on Bias.
Her esteemed career started as a Staff Attorney in Bronx County (1986-1989), advancing to the Federal Defender Services Unit for The Legal Aid Society (1989-1997). She served as a Housing Court Judge in New York County in 1997 and subsequently as a Civil Court Judge from 1998 to 2001. In 2001, Justice Renwick was elected as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court and served in the Civil Term for Bronx County till 2008. Her educational credits include a B.S. from Cornell University in 1982 and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in 1986.
New York State Bar Association’s president, Richard Lewis, commended Governor Hochul’s decision, lauding Justice Renwick’s depth of experience, exceptional leadership, and the historical significance of her appointment. “With Justice Renwick as a role model, we hope that the profession will attract more diverse law school students, which is good for the bench, the bar, and all those whose lives are impacted by the New York State court system,” Lewis stated.
Renwick’s journey from a Criminal Defense Attorney to her new role as Presiding Justice has been marked by an unflinching commitment to the bench, the bar, and the community. Justice Renwick’s appointment signifies a historic moment for New York, reflecting the state’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the highest echelons of its judiciary.
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