Family Court Resources on Immigration, Parental Representation Commission
New public websites available through the official home page of the New York State Unified Court System, www.nycourts.gov , were recently announced.
 
One site deals with the Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court . Included there are Advisory Memos to Family Court Judges on topics ranging from applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Findings to adverse consequences resulting from dispositions. Additionally, there is the protocol governing law enforcement agencies’ activities in courthouses, which includes the limitations on arrests by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents noted in the last edition of News Picks.
 
Also provided on the court website is information about the Commission on Parental Legal Representation , including the Commission’s February Interim Report noted in an earlier News Picks and comments from the hearings that preceded the report. Financial eligibility was one of the topics the Commission addressed, calling for uniform standards to be developed by a proposed State Office of Family Representation. As noted in the last edition of News Picks, the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services has announced public hearings in preparation for issuing criteria and procedures for determining eligibility in family court proceedings. There was a hearing today at the First Department and there are three more scheduled: Wed., June 19, 2019, Third Department, Albany; Wed., July 17, Second Department, Brooklyn; and Wed. Aug. 14, Fourth Department, Rochester. NYSDA encourages defenders to provide testimony.
 
Innovations in Family Court Practice 2019 CLE
Registration is still open to attend Innovations in Family Court Practice 2019 at the New York State Bar Association in Albany on June 7. Sponsored by the Committee on Mandated Representation and the Committee on Continuing Legal Education, this annual training will cover topics important to Family Court practitioners. This year’s agenda includes “Article 10 Interim Appeals”; “Raise the Age: 8 Months in”; “The Disability Defense in Child Support Cases”; and “Domestic Violence and Custody Case Law Update.” This is a full-day program, and includes the Committee on Mandated Representation Awards Presentation and Lunch. The cost to attend is $25 for State Bar members and $50 for non-members. If you are interested in attending, please contact the New York State Bar Association for more information and to register: www.nysba.org/familycourtpractice2019.    

Federal Title IV-E Reimbursement for Parental Representation Q&As
The Family Justice Initiative (FJI) has issued a questions and answers document on the recent policy change that would allow for federal reimbursement for the cost of legal representation for eligible children and their parents under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. As noted in the document, the answers are based on FJI’s interpretation of federal law and policy and are subject to change based on future federal guidance. The FJI website includes additional information about the policy change, including a webinar and an overview article, “Claiming Title IV-E Funds to Pay for Parents’ and Childrens’ Attorneys: A Brief Technical Overview.” FJI was founded by the Center for Family Representation, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, and the Children's Law Center of California.
 
NYSACDL Seeks Info on the Trial Penalty
The New York Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL) is conducting a “state-wide survey aimed at identifying the existence, sources and realities of the trial penalty throughout New York State,” i.e. the enormous risks and costs imposed on accused individuals for availing themselves of their right to a trial and other constitutional guarantees. The survey is designed to capture “lawyers’ informed input and experiences” about these institutional factors. NYSDA encourages attorneys to participate in this effort to collect information to be used in reform efforts. If you have not already done so, please spend the 15 to 25 minutes need to complete the survey here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/nytrialpenalty .
 
Disability Rights NY Monitoring Specialized Secure Detention Facilities and Youth Disability Rights
Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is the independent protection and advocacy system for New York State. DRNY advocates for the rights of adults and youth with disabilities, engages in impact litigation and individual representation, and investigates instances of abuse and neglect. You can learn more about DRNY here: https://www.drny.org/
 
DRNY will be monitoring the specialized secure detention facilities (SSDs) created pursuant to Raise the Age. DRNY is working to ensure that detained youth receive adequate medical and mental health care, and are free from inappropriate restraint and seclusion. In addition, DRNY strives to ensure that youth in detention are aware of their rights.
 
DRNY is interested in learning more about the treatment of youth with disabilities held in SSDs. If you have concerns regarding the use of restraints, seclusion, and force at specific facilities, or youth’s access to mental health care and special education services, please contact DRNY staff attorney Teresa Caturano at Teresa.Caturano@drny.org or (518) 512-4933.
 
CODIS Glitch: No Details Revealed
After a Bronx Justice News report in February revealed that a software glitch was causing incorrect DNA information to show up on crime lab computers, the DNA Subcommittee of New York’s Commission on Forensic Science requested a recent FBI bulletin about the glitch. The request was denied, according to a Bronx Justice News follow-up story on May 17. At a DNA Subcommittee meeting that day, distribution of a software patch to address the glitch was noted. [meeting video available here; the discussion starts at 15:00.] Apparently, the New York State Police Crime Lab now has the patch. It was stated at the meeting that the glitch affects only the display of information, not the integrity of the information in the system. CODIS-approved labs in New York include the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s lab and labs in Westchester and Nassau Counties. 
 
Change in Forensic Lab Oversight, at Least in Name
A consensus rule making to change the accrediting authority for forensic labs to “ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board” was announced in the NYS Register for May 22, 2019 (pp. 5-6). The change “revises the name of the current accrediting lab from ASCLD/ LAB (American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board) to ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board),” as “ANAB has signed an affiliation agreement with ASCLD/LAB, merging ASCLD/ LAB into ANAB.”

The merger was announced back in 2016. In 2017, during a public hearing on oversight of forensic labs, defense lawyer Marvin Schechter, a frequent critic of ASCLAD/LAB, noted that with ANAB being the “new sheriff in town,” it remained “to be seen what ANAB will do in terms of setting forward new rules and regulations as an accrediting agency.” Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project expressed hope that ANAB would be “stronger.” Given the importance of DNA evidence in many cases, NYSDA seeks to bring to the attention of defense lawyers any information that might inform challenges to the reliability of lab work presented by the prosecution.
 
Poverty’s Impact on Children’s Later Success: Breaking Out Details like Violence, Lead Exposure, and Incarceration
A study by Harvard social scientists looking for specifics as to how poverty undercuts achievement “points to a handful of key indicators, including exposure to high levels of lead, violence, and incarceration as key predictors of children’s later success,” according to an article in the Harvard Gazette. Greater exposure to these factors “‘has intergenerational consequences,’” according to Professor Robert Sampson. He also said he “hopes the study will spur similar research in other cities and expand to include other environmental contamination, including so-called brownfield sites.” Such studies might provide defense teams with valuable mitigation information.
 
Shock Programs Described as “Hell”
A May 21 post on The Appeal offers information from interviews with people who have been in prison “boot camp” programs in New York State, as well as comments from others. The article provides descriptions of both physical and verbal abuse, as well as use of solitary confinement and denial of medication-assisted treatment. It notes that shock programs appear to be declining in number nationwide and here. According to the article, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) spokesperson confirmed that the Willard Drug Treatment Campus, considered a shock-style program, is under review for possible changes, but not the two remaining Shock programs (two have abeen closed). The article raises questions about the efficacy of shock programs, noting the lack of data.

Defense lawyers advising clients about the option of a shock program should consider information like that contained in the article. Representation standards from the Office of Indigent Legal Services require counsel to “[i]nvestigate potential consequences that can arise from cases” and “to provide the client with the opportunity to make an intelligent and informed decision where a decision is to be made by the client.” NYSDA’s Client-Centered Representation Standards more specifically note that clients want a lawyer who “[a]ccurately informs the client who may be incarcerated about the incarceration process, including jail and prison programs, and works with the client to plan the future in terms of treatment while incarcerated, transitional issues, and reentry.”