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Judge Judy Sheindlin to Receive Honorary Degree from the University at Albany-SUNY

Former NYS Police Superintendent Thomas Constantine Also to Receive Honorary Degree 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 10, 2012) – Judge Judith Sheindlin, the presiding judge on the television program, “Judge Judy,” will be awarded the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University at Albany-State University of New York at the University’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m. The honorary doctorate degree is the highest form of recognition offered by the State University to persons of exceptional distinction.  Judge Sheindlin is scheduled to receive the honor and present the commencement address to the more than 2,000 students who will receive their undergraduate degrees at the ceremony to be held on the campus’s Grand Entry Plaza.

Judge Judy Sceindlin will deliver the undergraduate commencement address at UAlbany on May 20
Judith Sheindlin

Judge Judy Sheindlin has strong ties to the UAlbany campus. Her son, Adam Levy who is the District Attorney of Putnam County, N.Y., is a 1989 UAlbany graduate. Her two stepsons are also UAlbany graduates: Gregory, an attorney in New York City, graduated in 1986; and Jonathan, a physician specializing in vitreoretinal surgery, graduated in 1989. 

“I look forward to returning to Albany to address the Class of 2012,” said Sheindlin. “As a parent of three University at Albany graduates, I can assure the graduating class their UAlbany education will provide a strong foundation for success.”

Sheindlin passed the New York Bar exam in 1965 marking the beginning of a successful and widely recognized career. She served as a prosecutor in family court until her no-nonsense attitude attracted the attention of New York Mayor Ed Koch, resulting in her appointment as a judge in criminal court. Sheindlin remained an increasingly popular public figure before the inception of "Judge Judy."

"Judge Judy," which debuted in 1996, is currently the #1 television program in first-run syndication. Known for her sharp wit and no-nonsense approach to justice, Sheindlin emphasizes personal responsibility to those who come before her in small claims cases.

Behind the tough-talking female judge with the lace collar is Sheindlin, the only woman in a class of 126 students in the 1960s at American University’s Washington College of Law. The Brooklyn native finished her law degree at New York Law School. Her success as a TV personality began after she retired from the bench in 1996, having heard more than 20,000 cases during her career.

After graduation, she worked as a lawyer for a cosmetics firm for two years. Dissatisfied with corporate law, she left to raise her two children. When she returned to law, it was as a prosecutor for the New York Court System working on cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and juvenile issues. In 1982 she was appointed by New York City Mayor Ed Koch as a family court judge, and was later promoted to Supervising Judge in the Manhattan division of the family court.

In 1993, a profile in the Los Angeles Times drew national attention to her tough courtroom style, and this was later elaborated on by "60 Minutes." In 1996, she wrote the first of her many books, Don’t Pee on my Leg and Tell Me it’s Raining, which assessed the juvenile legal system and included her experiences as a lawyer and judge.

Her show is seen by 10 million viewers a day, and in 2010, became the most popular daytime television program on U.S. television. "Judge Judy" airs locally Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. on WXXA-Fox23.

Former Superintendent of NYS Police Also Awarded Honorary DegreeThomas A. Constantine

The University at Albany will award Thomas A. Constantine, former superintendent of the New York State Police, the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduate commencement on Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m. in the SEFCU Arena. Constantine, M.A. ’71, will address the 870 students expected to participate in the 168th graduate commencement ceremonies. 

Constantine was appointed the 10th Superintendent of the New York State Police in 1987, the first to come through the ranks in 30 years. His tenure as superintendent marked the emergence of the State Police as a major force in combating drug trafficking.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Constantine to administrate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, overseeing a workforce of more than 7,000 special agents and staff, and offices in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. He also directed efforts to aid foreign governments like Columbia in combating international drug trafficking organizations. In 2000 he accepted an appointment from the United Kingdom to serve as oversight commissioner of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland.

Since 1999, Constantine has served as a public service professor in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, where he developed a leadership development program for mid-level state police officers designed to enhance the overall strength of the police force.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit http://www.albany.edu/. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.