News Picks from NYSDA Staff
July 31, 2018
News Picks
Commission on Parental Legal Representation Seeks Information. In February of this year, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced the creation of the Commission on Parental Legal Representation "to examine the current state of mandated Family Court representation and determine how best to ensure the future delivery of quality, cost-effective parental representation.” The Commission is holding four public hearings in September and October 2018 “to gather information on existing services and suggestions for reform needed to ensure quality representation for persons eligible for assigned counsel in family law matters." As indicated in the notice, the Commission requests testimony related to the following topics, which are more fully described on page 2 of the notice: Funding and Caseloads; Timely Access to Counsel; Structural Issues; Model and Scope of Representation; Financial Eligibility Criteria and Procedures; Statewide Oversight Role; and Global Issues. The deadline for submission of written testimony and requests to testify at the Commission hearings is Thursday, August 16, 2018 .

We strongly encourage defenders to provide testimony and to circulate this notice to other attorneys for parents, current and former clients, local bar associations, listservs, community groups, etc. It is important for the Commission to hear from attorneys and clients about the importance of having well-resourced, trained, and dedicated parent attorneys across New York State.

If you submit testimony, please send a copy to Lucy McCarthy, NYSDA’s Family Court Staff Attorney, at Feel free to contact Angela Burton, Director of Quality Enhancement for Parent Representation at the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services, with any questions you may have about the Commission: 518-474-4859 or A list of the Commission members and consultants is available here .

Parent Attorneys as Agents of Change? James Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, authored an article in the ABA Child Law Practice Today about how lawyers can play a role in prevention in the child welfare system. In Reshaping Child Welfare in the United States: Lawyers as Partners in Prevention , Commissioner Milner writes of his experience working within a child welfare system subject to a class action lawsuit based on the failures of that system. He indicates that a consent decree mandated some change in the system, but the state remained committed to substantive change and, over the course of years, improved the system by way of a culture change.

Adopting a set of guiding values and principles, stakeholders began to see their role as “family strengtheners.” Now, conceding that the focus of his federal agency is responding to the needs of families before they are in crisis, he lists ways the Children’s Bureau hopes to improve the child welfare system; these include partnerships with other organizations and communities, preventing removal of children from their homes with services, focus on community resources, and maintaining the ties between children and their communities and families. He concludes that attorneys are essential to fulfilling the vision of the Children’s Bureau. “Aggressive efforts to keep families together safely, working diligently to promote child and family well-being, and recognizing the role of community supports are key areas where the legal and judicial communities can make a difference.” On a related note, NYSDA presented its 2018 Jonathan E. Gradess Service of Justice Award to a pioneer in parental representation. Susan Jacobs, founding Executive Director and current Special Counsel of the Center for Family Representation , received the award for her vision of legal representation that truly serves clients, and therefore families, and for her willingness to share both her vision and her knowledge with the defender community.

Behind the Badge- NYCLU’s New Database of Police Policies. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has announced a new online database with “internal policies and data from police departments across New York State.” The database, Behind the Badge , currently features annotated policies and data from seven police departments: Albany, Buffalo, Nassau, Rochester, Suffolk, Syracuse, and White Plains. Materials from other departments are coming soon. “The NYCLU requested polices and data on basic police functions and operations, including the use of force, police stops, efforts to combat bias, department diversity, and use of surveillance technology from 23 departments across the state.” “The site makes public the internal rules, policies and training material (or lack thereof) guiding police interactions with the community," and available data on topics such as police stops, uses of force, and department diversity.

Raise the Age Update. The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) has posted a recording and PowerPoint slides from a recent webinar on state implementation efforts surrounding Raise the Age (RTA). The webinar was presented by members of the Executive Chamber, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), Division of Criminal Justice Services, Division of the Budget, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), and the Commission of Correction. Updates include:

  • Probation: Specialized juvenile justice training sessions for probation departments are being held around the state and probation has also been providing judicial training in “probation evidence based practices to improve youth outcomes in New York State”; RTA funded community based services will include: cognitive behavioral interventions; behavioral health; vocational, educational, employment; and intensive family therapy.

  • DOCCS: Hudson Correctional Facility will be the reception center for all Adolescent Offenders (AO) and will be the only facility to house female AOs; Adirondack Correctional Facility will transition to an AO facility on October 1, 2018; Groveland Annex will transition to an AO Facility (Sonyea AO Facility) on October 1, 2019.

  • OCFS: training Family Court and Youth Part judges on the Family Court Detention Risk Assessment for Juvenile Delinquents; 13 voluntary agencies have been approved to create specialized RTA programs statewide, with 171 beds for the first year; the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth is recommissioning buildings on the Industry Residential Center campus (Rush, NY) to add 80 limited secure male beds and is reopening the Harriet Tubman Residential Center (Sennett, NY) to provide 25 limited secure female beds.

Guidance to Probation and Ignition Interlock Monitors on Non-Installation. The Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) issued a memorandum to probation directors and commissioners and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Monitors regarding individuals subject to an ignition interlock condition who have not installed an IID. As noted in the memo, “Probation and other IID Monitors in New York State are required to conduct quarterly checks of motor vehicle ownership/title and/or registration status for all ‘non-installers’ using the NYS Department of Motor Vehicle’s Registration and Title Databases.” The memo also reminds probation departments that, during the presentence investigation, they must run title and registration checks and instructions are provided on how to obtain a list of all motor vehicles registered to an address, not just those in the defendant’s name. Finally, the memo offers guidance on situations where the probation officer or monitor discovers that an operator has maintained ownership/registration of a vehicle and has failed to install an IID, including cases where the operator reports that their vehicle has been junked. The memo includes a form to be used when notifying the court and prosecution of a failure to install an IID or other violation of the IID condition of probation or conditional discharge.
Association News

NYSDA is Hiring- Apply Now to Join Our Team as a Staff Attorney. NYSDA is seeking a Staff Attorney for its Public Defense Backup Center. Staff Attorneys provide consultation and legal research support to public defense lawyers statewide who represent clients in criminal, family court, and related proceedings.

Qualifications include: at least 5 years’ experience in criminal defense and/or adult family court representation (10+ years’ experience preferred); demonstrated commitment to public defense and NYSDA’s mission ; extensive knowledge of New York’s Penal Law and Criminal Procedure Law; and excellent writing, research, and editing skills. For more details about the position and qualifications, click here . Questions? Contact Susan Bryant, Acting Director, at 518-465-3524 or Please share this announcement with attorneys who may be qualified and interested in this important position.

New Issue of NYSDA's Backup Center REPORT Now Available.   The April-July 2018 of NYSDA's Public Defense Backup Center REPORT is now available on the NYSDA website. NYSDA members will receive a hard copy of the latest issue by mail soon. If you have any questions, please contact the Backup Center at 518-465-3524.

Annual Conference: Days of CLE and Night of Inspiration. About 300 lawyers from around the state spent two days in CLE sessions at NYSDA’s Annual Conference last week. They heard about recent appellate decisions, other legal developments, and some of the special challenges in representing clients with specific—and sometimes overlapping—needs, such as military veterans, teenagers, and those with mental illness. Conferees also heard inspiring words about and from three colleagues honored at the Awards Banquet for stellar advocacy in court and beyond. As summarized in this press release , award recipients this year included Susan Jacobs , the first Executive Director and current Special Counsel of the Center for Family Representation; Nancy Ginsburg , Director of the Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Project of The Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Practice; and Alex B. Rosen , Bureau Chief of the Criminal Unit of the Dutchess County Office of the Public Defender. Congratulations again, Sue, Nancy, and Alex!
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