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Society

Feinman, First Openly Gay Judge on New York High Court, Dies

ALBANY, N.Y. — Paul Feinman, the first openly gay judge to serve on New York's highest court, died recently after stepping down because of his health, state officials announced Wednesday. He was 61. 

No cause of death was given. He had retired from the court March 23 to attend to unspecified health concerns.

Feinman was appointed in 2017 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve on the Court of Appeals after serving five years on a midlevel appeals court.

"Throughout his career, Judge Feinman was a tireless and resolute champion of LGBTQ rights, a trailblazing pioneer for LGBTQ lawyers and judges and an incredibly dedicated mentor who inspired countless judges, attorneys and law students," Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a prepared statement.

Born and raised on Long Island, Feinman began his legal career with the Appeals Bureau of the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.

He was designated an acting Supreme Court justice in Manhattan in 2004 and elected to the court in 2007. Cuomo appointed him to the first department of the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court in October 2012. 

"It's often said that law reflects the morals of society, and Justice Feinman reflected the very best of New York," Cuomo said in a release. "His passing is an immeasurable loss for the state of New York, and we will miss him terribly."

Survivors include his husband, Robert Ostergaard. 

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