Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director of Media Services
January 9, 2012
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION TASK FORCE ON FAMILY
COURT HOLDS SECOND HEARING
A State Bar Association Task Force designed to address issues related
to the Family Court system, particularly its impact on children and
families, will convene the second of four statewide hearings Wednesday,
January 11, in New York City.
The hearing, for the Appellate Division, First Department, will be
held from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the New York County Lawyers’
Association, 14 Vesey Street, Manhattan. The First Department consists
of New York and Bronx counties.
“Family Court finds New York children at their most
vulnerable--when are they affected by a break-up of their families,
domestic violence or criminal behavior. Addressing the problems of
family courts is critical,” said Bar Association President Vincent
E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo, LLP). “When the
courts don’t have adequate resources to handle a growing caseload,
it is children who are affected the most.”
Seymour W. James Jr. of New York City (Legal Aid Society),
president-elect of the State Bar Association, and Stewart Aaron of New
York City (Arnold & Porter), president of the New York County
Lawyers’ Association, will make opening remarks at
The task force plans hearings for the Second and Fourth Departments
in Long Island and Buffalo, respectively, in March. The first hearing,
for the Third Department, was held in Albany on Dec. 1.
“We collected a tremendous amount of valuable information
from the judges, attorneys, government officials and advocates at the
Albany hearing. We hope to gain equally enlightening perspectives at the
New York City hearing,” said Susan B. Lindenauer, former counsel
to the president and attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society of New
York City. She co-chairs the task force with Broome County Family Court
Judge Mary Rita Connerton.
Among those expected to testify Wednesday are family court judges and
others affiliated with the courts, local bar associations, legal service
providers, government officials, private practitioners and organizations
serving children, families and battered women. (A complete list of
Wednesday’s speakers appears at the bottom of this release.)
Written testimony can be submitted to the Task Force at One Elk Street,
Albany, NY 12207.
The task force will use the hearings testimony to complement its
research and provide additional insight into the problems and solutions.
Its preliminary report will be issued in June, the final report in
November. The report will be forwarded to the state’s Chief
Administrative Judge and others for consideration.
The 35-member Task Force on the Family Court was formed in 2010 to
identify key areas for improving Family Court across the state.
Four subcommittees are addressing resources for litigants; resources for
the courts; operations, case management, and staffing; and
Family court caseloads burgeoned during the last decade, most notably
in the areas of child custody, visitation and child support. The family
courts handled 720,850 court filings in 2010, compared to 683,390 in
2001, according to the Office of Court Administration. In New York
City, the caseload was 246,266 in 2010, up from the 226,544 in 2001.
Despite rising caseloads--including a record 742,365 statewide in
2009--only four new Family Court judgeships have been created statewide
since 1999, and none in New York City since 1991.
Family Court’s Growing Burden
NEW YORK CITY (New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens and Richmond
Type of Petition 2010 2001
Total Filings 246,266 226,544
Custody/Visitation 53,543 41,027
Support 80,005 47,160
Guardianship 2,878 2,553
Family Offense 26,991 26,927
Type of Petition 2010 2001
Total Filings 720,850 683,390
Custody/Visitation 205,026 169,111
Support 267,820 217,352
Guardianship 4,791 4,313
Family Offense 65,874 59,137
Source: New York State Unified Court System, Report of the Chief
Administrator of the Courts, 2010, 2001
Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is
the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.
The following is a list of confirmed and invited speakers for the New
York State Bar Association’s Task Force on the Family Court
hearing, Appellate Division, First Department, on Wednesday, January 11,
2012, at the NYCLA offices in Manhattan.
• Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge for
New York City Family Courts
• Douglas Hoffman, Supervising Judge, New York County Family
• Ana Bermudez, Deputy Commissioner for Juvenile Operations,
New York City Department Probation
• Angela Albertus, Deputy Chief Corporation Counsel, Family
Court, New York City Law Department
• Kathie E. Davidson, Supervising Judge, Family Court Ninth
• Michele Cortese, Center for Family Representation, Inc.
• Melanie Hart, Legal Information for Families Today
• James Purcell, Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies
• Jane Golden, Council on Children, New York City Bar
• George Reed, Jr.
• Janette Cortes-Gomez, Bronx Family Bar Association
• Ronald E. Richter, Commissioner, NYC Administration for
• Tamara A. Steckler, Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights
• Dennis Hawkins, Fund for Modern Courts
• Karen P. Simmons, Children’s Law Center
• Emily Ruben, Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Neighborhood
• Mary Rothwell Davis, Center for Battered Women’s
Legal Services, Sanctuary for Families
• Barbara Finkelstein, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
• Pamela Sheininger, Court Attorney Referee, New York County
• Monica A. Drinane, Supervising Judge, Bronx Family Court
• Kara Finck, Bronx Defenders
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993