Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice set to retire amid controversy

May 13, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Hon. Vincent Del Giudice is a seasoned jurist serving as an acting justice of the Supreme Court, Kings County, and a former justice of the Court of Claims, appointed by Govs. George Pataki and Andrew Cuomo, with a legal career that began as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County. Brooklyn Eagle file photo by Mario Belluomo
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Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice is slated to retire at the end of this month, marking the end of a long-planned judicial career at age 70, sources told the Brooklyn Eagle. This decision comes amidst a turbulent period marked by significant scrutiny from advocacy groups.

The Center for Community Alternatives, a leading voice in judicial accountability, has recently intensified its campaign against what it terms “rubber stamping” judges for new terms. This push for greater scrutiny is part of a broader initiative named The Court New York Deserves, which seeks to ensure judges across the state uphold ethical responsibilities and the values of the communities they serve.

Justice Del Giudice, who has served as a judge for more than two decades, faced criticism from the group for his judicial conduct. Notably, the Appellate Division, Second Department, has reversed Del Giudice’s sentences on 19 occasions, deeming them excessively punitive. Collectively, these reversals have reduced sentences by over 500 years.

Peter Martin, director of judicial accountability at the Center for Community Alternatives, emphasized the need for change.

“Judges must be evaluated and scrutinized,” Martin said. “Thanks to a growing number of individuals and organizations committed to judicial transparency, we increasingly have the information we need to identify the most fit and the most unfit judges. The most unfit judges must not be given new terms. All judges must earn new terms — from us, New Yorkers. Courts of integrity, which provide justice to all people, cannot have unjust, cruel judges serving term after term after term. Those judges must be replaced by judges who truly provide justice. And we’ve seen that we get better judges through engagement by the public, especially by the New Yorkers most impacted by judges’ decisions. We need courts that welcome, engage and embrace transparency.”

While Judge Del Giudice has the option to seek certification for an additional two-year service post-retirement, the advocacy group has called on Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers to ensure his departure, arguing that his record does not merit an extension. Sources, however, confirmed to the Eagle that the judge had never planned on seeking certification and will retire at the end of the month.

In New York, the retirement rules for judges are defined under Article VI, Section 25 of the New York Constitution. According to this section, all judges, including those serving on the Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, Court of Claims, County Court, Surrogate’s Court, Family Court and any court established for the city of New York, must retire on the last day of December in the year they turn 70.

After reaching the age of 70, retired judges from the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court justices may continue to perform judicial duties as Supreme Court justices if certificated as necessary to expedite court business and if they are found mentally and physically capable. These certifications are valid for two years and can be renewed for additional two-year terms. However, these retired judges and justices can serve in such a capacity no longer than until the last day of December in the year they reach the age of seventy-six.

This rule ensures a continual renewal within the judiciary while allowing for experienced judges to contribute beyond the standard retirement age under specific conditions.

Judge Del Giudice has served as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court in Kings County since 2002, a position to which he was appointed by Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman. Prior to his current role, Judge Del Giudice was appointed as a Justice of the Court of Claims by Gov. George Pataki, serving from 2002 to 2004, and subsequently reappointed for terms running from 2005 to 2013 and 2014 to 2022 under Govs. Pataki and Andrew Cuomo, respectively.

Before ascending to the bench, Judge Del Giudice practiced law at the Law Office of Vincent M. Del Giudice from 1993 to 2002. He began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Bronx County, a role he held from 1980 to 1993. 

Judge Del Giudice was admitted to the bar in 1980 and is licensed to practice in New York and Pennsylvania. He is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He earned his Juris Doctor from New York Law School in 1980 and holds a Bachelor of Arts from New York University.

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