Chautauqua Family Court Judge Judith S. Claire and Tamara Steckler, attorney in-charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society, are the 2012 recipients of the Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.

The award, given by the Committee on Children and the Law of the New York State Bar Association, recognizes individuals for their work protecting and promoting the rights of New York's children. The awards were presented at the State Bar Center on May 2nd in Albany.

"Judge Judith Claire and Tamara Steckler have done outstanding work to ensure justice for children in New York. They recognize that every case, no matter the size, affects a child's future. Their individual efforts have helped reform our juvenile justice system for the better," said Professor Merril Sobie of White Plains (Pace University School of Law), chair of the committee. "We are pleased to present the Howard A. Levine Award to these two extraordinary leaders."

Judith S. Claire has served as Chautauqua County's sole Family Court judge since 1998.  She has spearheaded successful programs such as "Youth Orientation Day," where older children in foster care visit the family courthouse facilities to ease their fears and learn about the players in a permanency hearing.  Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman appointed Judge Claire to the Family Court and Rules Committee in 2004. She serves on the subcommittee for juvenile justice.

Tamara Steckler of Manhattan has been the attorney-in-charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society since 2005. Her advocacy has led to caseload caps for attorneys for children to improve the quality of representation; policies that respect children with decision-making capability; and weekend and holiday arraignments so arrested children spend more time at home than in detention. She is a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission on Children and previously served on the Task Force on the Future of Probation in New York State.

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Brandon Vogel
Media Writer