By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Retired judge and former state senator Hon. William Thompson Sr., is rumored to have selected to mediate the contentious and controversial suit between Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center (SUNY), which wishes to shut the hospital down.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes, presiding judge in the LICH/SUNY case, has issued a temporary restraining order preventing SUNY from ceasing the hospital function of LICH. Supporters of LICH say that SUNY is violating the order and taking steps to shut LICH down. It is purported that Baynes has assigned Thompson to mediate the case and hopefully assist in bringing both sides to resolution.
Thompson, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School, has participated in settlement and compromise in one form or another since the inception of his career. In 1965, Thompson was elected to the New York State Senate, becoming the first black American elected to serve as state senator in New York. In 1968 he ran for Congress, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by the famed Shirley Chisholm, who became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
During his time as state senator, Thompson, a decorated war veteran who received a Purple Heart medal while serving in a segregated army unit during World War II, was the chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Child Care Needs. He worked alongside U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in creating the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the first community development corporation in the country.
Wanting to continue a career in addressing the needs of the people, Thompson was elected to the Brooklyn Supreme Court bench in 1974. Shortly after his election, Thompson was appointed to serve in the Appellate Term serving Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Day in and day out, Thompson assisted in adjudicating the most complex of cases. Having served as an assistant administrative judge for Brooklyn and Staten Island, Thompson was appointed in 1980 by then-New York Gov. Hugh Carey to the Appellate Division for the Second Department. Thompson served as an associate justice until he retired in 2001.
Upon his retirement, Thompson stuck with his Brooklyn roots and joined the Brooklyn personal injury firm Ross & Hill. Thompson is known for his success in mediating complex cases and works with National Arbitration and Mediation, a likely reason why Baynes would have, if such selection is true, selected him for the LICH/SUNY case. Having mediated cases on complex topics such as construction law, labor law, real estate and commercial matters, Thompson has been ranked by New York Law Journal readers as one of the top 10 individual mediators in New York.
The official order from Baynes assigning Thompson as mediator on the LICH/SUNY case has not been released. As such, it is unclear if Thompson has been officially been appointed, and if so, what his duties and powers would entail.