The Honorable Theresa M. Ciccotto is a Supreme Court Judge, 2nd Judicial District (Matrimonial Term) since 2017. She is running for a 14-year term on the Democrat, Republican and Conservative party lines. From 2014-2020, she was a Judge in Kings County Civil Court where she presided over contract, personal injury and products liability cases, amongst others.
Ciccotto received her J.D. from CUNY Law School. Ciccotto began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County from 1989-1995, where she served as a Senior Trial Assistant. Afterward, Ciccotto became a member of the 18B Criminal Defense Panel, where she defended indigent people accused of crimes. Ciccotto then worked for two judges in both criminal and civil matters. She then went on to private practice as an Associate in criminal defense firms. Ciccotto is a former President of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association; a former member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild; and has served as a member of numerous other organizations. Ciccotto has received several awards for service to the community.
Judge Ciccotto enjoys being a family court judge because it allows her to get to know litigants directly (with their attorneys present, of course): their feelings, expectations and fears. “Nobody gets married to get divorced,” Ciccotto says. She has learned a lot about the Orthodox community from the bench.
“Court is like the doctor’s office,” says Judge Ciccotto. “There was a wrong and they want it to be made right.” There are children involved, lives are upended. You have to understand what the parties want.
When you make a decision that decision affects someone’s life. Therefore, Judge Ciccotto appreciates the working of batei din. If you’re informed you can make better, more correct decisions, says Ciccotto.
While a beis din is a religious court, under New York law, a beis din is viewed as an arbitrator. Usually, when religious Jewish couples come to court in a divorce proceeding, one party wants to set aside a beis din’s decision. Therefore, one party might allege that the other party had a special relationship as a reason for setting aside the beis din’s decision.
Judge Ciccotto resumed working from her courtroom in June. Some of her colleagues have chosen not to and she respects that. She appreciates having everything in front of her. Judge Ciccotto wears a mask. Parties can appear in the courtroom or remotely. Masks must be worn in court, social distancing is in place, and there is plexiglass. If parties choose to appear remotely she prefers that they do so from their lawyer’s office. She wants the attorneys to give the best representation possible to their clients. During trial, an attorney can ask to be muted to confer with their client.
“I respect law and order,” says Judge Ciccotto. People should not be afraid to leave their homes. This is how she was raised. Judge Ciccotto’s parents lived until well into their 90s. She wants safe communities for the elderly, respect for police, and the preservation of stores and homes.