Carol Berkman

Until recently, Justice Emily Goodman was probably our favorite member of the New York Supreme Court — mainly ’cause she was nice enough to write to us.
But Justice Goodman has been displaced; we’ve found a new object for our affections. From Judicial Reports:

Is Carol Berkman the least popular Supreme Court Justice in Manhattan? We know a slew of attorneys who have put her at the top — or perhaps that’s the bottom — of their lists.

To say that Acting Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman of Manhattan is unpopular among litigators would be an understatement. More than a dozen lawyers recently cited her penchant for extraordinary verbal abuse of counsel.

One called her “ornery.” Another said “nasty.” Still another opined that she was “vindictive.”

In 1999 the Legal Aid Society took the highly unusual step of publicly petitioning against Berkman’s reappointment to Criminal Court. The society wrote a letter to the Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary that accused the justice of “systematic rudeness and mistreatment of both defense and prosecution lawyers and defendants (and occasionally even belittlement of other judges).”

We love Justice Berkman: she’s smart, and she’s tough. On the smarts front, note her impressive resume, including Cornell and Harvard Law; her low reversal rate (5.4 percent); and the attorney testimonials in the Judicial Reports piece, noting her intelligence.
The Judicial Reports article also contains ample evidence of Judge Berkman’s tougheness — especially with respect to her handling of psychiatric evidence she perceives to be dubious. You can read the report in its entirety by clicking on the link below.
Wielding a Mean Gavel [Judicial Reports]