New York State Senate Judiciary Committee


Hon. Janet DiFiore

WNYC News: Family Court Judges Get Guidance on How to Help Immigrant Crime Victims

Immigrants who don’t have legal status, and who are victims of crime, can apply to stay in the country legally if they’re determined to be helpful to law enforcement. But victims’ advocates have complained some family court judges weren’t signing the paperwork for these U visas, because they didn’t understand the process.

The Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court responded by giving New York judges a guidance memo with background history and frequently asked questions.

Read the full article.

An Independent Judiciary is Essential to the Rule of Law

The Fund for Modern Courts believes that the President’s recent unjust criticism of a federal district court judge and his disparaging comments about the review by the United States Court of Appeals  both weakens the public’s confidence in the judiciary and undermines the rule of law. This disrespect for a co-equal branch of government threatens the constitutional principles of our democracy.

An independent judiciary is essential to the rule of law, and while Modern Courts takes no position on the legal arguments asserted in this matter, we cannot stand silent about this attempt to undermine the legitimacy of a federal judge, his decision, and the appellate process.

Tradition and ethical considerations prevent judges from defending themselves from attacks, even baseless ones, about matters that are before them. Therefore, such defense must be made by all Americans who respect the Constitution, acknowledge the concept of the separation of powers and believe that we are a nation of laws, not of individuals.

Although the Fund for Modern Courts was founded and works to improve the administration of justice in New York State, we are concerned that the recent unjust criticism by the President will encourage others to engage in the same type of conduct in our state’s courts.

We suggest that the President consider the remarks made by Chief Justice John Roberts, in his 2016 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary about the importance of federal district courts judges: “they deserve tremendous respect” and they serve “as the calm central presence to ensure fair process and justice for the litigants.” We stand with the Chief Justice in recognizing that “each American generation has produced selfless, patriotic, and brave individuals who have stepped forward to serve their country with distinction as federal district judges. Our Nation is justly proud of our current district judges and grateful for their service.”

Modern Courts calls upon the President to treat the judiciary with the respect that it deserves and to cease making unjustified criticisms of individual judges and the judiciary as an institution.

Achieving a Consistent and Legally Sound U Visa Certification Process in New York Family Courts: A Follow-up to Modern Courts’ 2015 Report – 2016

Family court judges play a crucial role as certifying officials for victims of crime seeking U Nonimmigrant Status (“U Visa”), a role which New York has consistently recognized. Congress created the U Visa, as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, to grant immigration status to victims of certain specified crimes, including domestic violence. Family court is particularly important in the U Visa context because it has jurisdiction over family offense proceedings, a route often preferred over criminal prosecution by victims of abuse. In these cases and others, family court judges serve as a critical contact for victims.

Achieving a Consistent and Legally Sound U Visa Certification Process in New York Family Courts: A Follow-up to Modern Courts’ 2015 Report – 2016 Read More…

Raise the Age New York Campaign – 2017

As a coalition of national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement and legal representative groups, faith leaders, service providers and unions, we write to you out of great concern for New York’s justice system. We were deeply disappointed that raise the age legislation was not addressed as part of the final FY 2016-17 state budget and we urge you to come to a resolution by the end of the this session. The safety of our communities and the well-being of our children depend on it.

Read More…

Modern Courts releases Report on the Intersection of Immigration Status and Family Court and Establishes New Statewide Coalition

From the report: “.….Nowhere in the New York state court system is the question of immigration status more tightly bound up with state law than in the New York family courts. Judges must grapple with difficult questions of how a parent’s immigration status should be weighed when determining what is in the best interest of the child in a custody proceeding, Read More…

Now Is The Time For More Family Court Judges Video

We are proud to announce that our Video has won the DoGooder ImpactX Award sponsored by See3Communications in partnership with YouTube and Nten: Nonprofit Technology Network.

The DoGooder National Awards is a contest in which nonprofit organizations and individuals who have created videos for positive social change submit their content created in 2014. The ImpactX Award is a juried prize based on the real world impact driven by a video.

July 2 Time Warner Cable News Story on New Family Court Judges in Central New York

Cable News Television Report on New York State adding more Family Court Judges…see more here

Statement In Response to the Assembly and Senate One House Bills

In response to the Assembly and Senate One House Bills, the New York State Coalition for More Family Court Judges issued the following statement:

The Family Courts are desperately short of resources, including Family Court Judges. The New York State Coalition for More Family Court Judges is grateful that both the Senate and Assembly recognized the critical need in their one house bills by supporting the Judiciary’s budget request to add 20 more Family Court Judges statewide. Read More…

Statement on the Mayor’s Judicial Appointments by Citizens Union, the Fund for Modern Courts, and the New York City Bar Association

Modern Courts joins with Citizen Union and the New York City Bar Association to Urge Mayor-Elect De Blasio to Continue the Merit Selection Process
Read More…

Support for the Constitutional Amendment to Increase the Maximum Retirement Age of Judges – Nov. 5, 2013 Election

New York, NY – The Fund and Committee for Modern Courts supports the Constitutional Amendment to increase the maximum retirement age of judges of the Court of Appeals and Justices of the Supreme Court (Proposal Number Six) on the ballot for the November 5, 2013 election which amends the New York State Constitution, sections 2 and 25 of article 6, to provide that: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for two additional two-year terms of certification after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 while in office would be permitted to remain in service on the Court for up to a maximum of ten years beyond the present retirement age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed.

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