Judge Jeanette Ruiz became the Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court in October, 2015, immediately following her service as Deputy Administrative Judge and, earlier, Supervising Judge of the Kings County Family Court. She is the first Latina to serve as an Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court. Judge Ruiz retired from the bench in October 2021.
Judge Ruiz began her legal career as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Iraline Barnes, Judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court. Before taking the bench, Judge Ruiz served as Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department and, following that, as Assistant Commissioner of the New York City Department of Business Services, where she implemented a citywide mayoral initiative for affirmative action in the procurement of city goods and services. She went on to serve as General Counsel at Harlem Dowling West Side Center, a major non-profit community-based child welfare agency, where she created its first legal department and redesigned its adoption case flow management to achieve permanency for children in its foster care programs. She then served as Deputy General Counsel and, later, as Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children Services.
Judge Ruiz was first appointed to the Family Court bench in 2007. She served until 2012 as a trial judge in Kings County Family Court and Bronx County Family Court, where she presided over juvenile delinquency and child protective cases. In 2012, she was appointed Supervising Judge of the Kings County Family Court and, in 2015, Deputy Administrative Judge, citywide. Later that year, she was appointed as an Administrative Judge.
As Administrative Judge, she implemented a goal-oriented Strategic Plan for the future of the New York City Family Court and led the court through its implementation of the recently enacted state legislation that increased the age of criminal responsibility. Under Judge Ruiz’s leadership, the New York City Family Court completed its conversion to fully digital record-keeping and electronic signatures, becoming the first and largest fully digital court in the state. Judge Ruiz’s vision to embrace technology as a means to enhance court operations allowed the NYC Family Court to immediately conduct virtual proceedings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jurists’ ability to sign documents electronically and the court’s adoption of NY Bench, a web-based application that allows court staff to access court records remotely, were integral to the court’s successful transition to virtual operations.
Judge Ruiz is a member of the New York State Unified Court System’s Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee, the New York State Unified Court System’s Commission on Parental Representation, and the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. She is a member of the Latino Judges Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the New York City and New York State Family Court Judges Associations, the New York City and New York State Bar Associations, and the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association. Over the years, Judge Ruiz has been recognized as a leader in the area of child welfare, and in 2019, she was the recipient of the prestigious Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare. She frequently speaks at conferences, seminars, and events on family law topics.
Judge Ruiz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended public schools. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from New York City’s Hunter College, a Master’s Degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work, and she received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.