Administrative Judges Win 2006 Levine Awards for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare
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May 23, 2006
Two administrative judges with demonstrated, strong interests in improving the family court system will receive the 2006 Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare on June 6 at the State Bar Center.
The Hon. Joseph M. Lauria, administrative judge of the New York City Family Court, and the Hon. Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the 8th Judicial District, will receive their awards from Anne Reynolds Copps of Albany, chair of the Committee on Children and the Law. President Mark H. Alcott of Manhattan (Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP) will deliver welcoming remarks at a 5:30-7:30 p.m. reception. The awards are sponsored by the Committee on Children and the Law.
Judge Lauria has served as administrative judge of the New York City Family Court since October 1999. In that capacity, he has focused on promoting efficiency, integrity, dignity and civility throughout the family court system. Lauria is a staunch supporter of court restructuring and alternative dispute resolution. He also has served as supervising judge of Kings and Richmond counties and Family Court Judge in Queens County.
Judge Lauria began his career as an assistant district attorney in Kings County, where he became senior homicide trial assistant from 1978-1980. He later served as chief of the Criminal Court and chief of training for the Queens County District Attorney’s office. He spent 10 years as a solo practitioner concentrating on Criminal and Family Law before being appointed to the bench.
Judge Townsend was the first woman to be named Administrative Judge in the 8th Judicial District and the first Family Court Judge in the state to be appointed Administrative Judge. She was elected to the State Supreme Court in 2003 and first elected to the Family Court in 1991. Previously, Judge Townsend served as a village justice in the Village of Williamsville.
She is a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and was chair of the Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee for the New York State Office of Court Administration. She serves on the board of trustees and was a model court lead judge for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Judge Townsend has received several awards in recognition of her work on behalf of children and families. She received the Erie County Court Appointed Special Advocates Light of Hope award, the Outstanding Jurist of the Year award from the Erie County Judges & Police Conference and the 2001 Jurist of the Year award from the Erie County Bar Association. In 2004, Erie County named her one of the Women Making History and in 2005 she received the Lady Justice Award from the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, Western New York Chapter. In February of this year, Judge Townsend received the Susan B. Anthony Award from the Interclub Council of Western New York.
The Levine Award was named for Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, who was the first chair of the then-NYSBA Special Committee on Juvenile Justice. He has been a strong advocate for improving New York’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
In 1987, the first Levine Award was presented to Matilda Cuomo and Philip C. Pinksy, First Assistant Counsel to the state Senate’s Majority Leader. In 2005, the Hon. Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. and Janet R. Fink received the award.
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