Judge Joseph Zayas was formally appointed the new chief administrative judge for New York's court system on Thursday, making him the first Latino judge to serve in the post.
Zayas will be replacing Judge Tamik Amaker, who had served as an administrative judge in an acting capacity since December 2022.
The appointment of Zayas comes weeks after the nomination and confirmation of Judge Rowan Wilson to serve as the state's chief judge of its top court, the Court of Appeals. As administrative judge, Zayas will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the court system.
New York's court system has a $3.3 billion budget and employees nearly 20,000 employees.
"Judge Zayas brings an impressive breadth of expertise to this key post,” Wilson said. “I am grateful to him for accepting this vital position and am confident that, working together and carefully assessing the local needs of courts throughout our state, we will successfully navigate the many challenges facing our court system."
The appointment comes as the court system is working to get back to full capacity after the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"His Puerto Rican heritage and his upbringing in a public housing project in West Harlem have prepared him to understand the needs of all New Yorkers, particularly those who struggle to access the justice system," said Sherry Levin Wallach, the president of the New York State Bar Association. "His experiences have given him a unique understanding of the challenges facing those who are underprivileged, and he has committed his career to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”