The Fund for Modern Courts Presented the 2006 Samuel J. Duboff Memorial Award For outstanding contributions by non-lawyer volunteers to improving the New York State court system to the volunteers of VOICES OF WOMEN Organizing Project.
The award was presented in recognition of their work in documenting problems with the courts’ handling of domestic violence cases and making recommendations for improving the courts based on the experiences and moving testimony of survivors. Through the Voices of Women, volunteers, who are themselves survivors of domestic violence, meet and educate public officials, testify at hearings, create position papers, and conduct surveys about the judicial services available in domestic violence cases. The contributions of the volunteers of Voices of Women provide an excellent example of volunteer involvement in the work of the courts, and help promote the effective administration of justice in New York State.
The 2005 Duboff Award was presented jointly to the volunteers of Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services in recognition of their work in providing high-quality, personalized care for the victims of domestic violence. Volunteers serve as legal intake workers, translators ad provide a variety of other pro bono services for in-court and out-of-court matters. The contributions of the volunteers of Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services serve as an excellent example of volunteer involvement in the work of the courts, and help promote the effective administration of justice in New York State.
The award was also presented to the volunteers of NAMI-NYS Criminal Justice Program in recognition of their work on behalf of individuals with mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system in New York and their families. Volunteers have created support groups for the families of individuals with mental illness, advocated for reform in the criminal justice and mental health systems, and actively participated in training sessions and conferences for police, prosecutors, judges and mental health workers.
The 2004 Duboff Award was presented to two organizations: the volunteers of inMotion and Prison Families of New York.
InMotion is a free legal assistance program serving underrepresented, low-income, and abused women in New York City. Through the Realizing Independence Through Empowerment (RITE) program, inMotion engages Legal Assistants from New York City law firms, as well as successful previous participants in the RITE program, to assist women in processing their own uncontested divorces. The program teaches women about the legal system, and promotes independence by offering support as women manage the process on their own. Shelley C. Chapman, Partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and President of the Board of inMotion will attended to help receive the award.
Prison Families of New York (PFNY), based in Albany, is a coalition of individuals who have a loved one incarcerated in New York State. PFNY provides support, information, assistance, and a sense of community to family members, and offers programming to children to help cope with a parent’s involvement in the criminal justice system. In addition to providing serves to family members, PFNY advocates for prisoners, and educates the court system and the general public about the impact of incarceration on an individual’s family. Alison Coleman, Director of PFNY, accepted the Duboff Award on behalf of the group.
The 2003 Duboff Award was presented to two organizations whose volunteers improve the court system for all New Yorkers: The Law, Order and Justice Society of Schenectady County and the Family Abuse Court Services Program of the Mental Health Association of Westchester County.
The Law, Order and Justice Society (LOJ) provides dispute resolution, case management, supportive services and advocacy to individuals involved in the courts in Schenectady County. LOJ recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary of promoting fairness and equality in the justice system.
LOJ offers bail assistance to defendants, helps offenders make financial restitution to their victims, operates a community service program for offenders to repay the community for their crimes, and runs a diversion program to teach youth and first-time offenders about the consequences of criminal behavior. LOJ’s volunteer program provides community dispute resolution services and Family Law mediation services. Also, LOJ volunteers teach decision-making skills to inmates to decrease recidivism.
The Family Abuse Court Services Volunteer Program offers critical in-court help to victims. In Westchester County, 5,000 women are battered and 4,500 children are physically or sexually abused each year. Family Abuse Court Service volunteers help victims negotiate the court system by explaining the court process, providing emotional support and discussing a victim’s options, accompanying clients to courts as non-witness friends, and assisting with referrals to social and personal services a victim may need when leaving an abusive relationship.
Volunteers in the Family Abuse Court Services program work in the White Plains, New Rochelle, and Yonkers Family Courts, and provide assistance to any individual who comes to the court seeking relief from violence in their home. Volunteers commit one day each week to serving clients in the family courts, and receive 14 hours of initial training from staff, lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officials.
The Modern Courts 2002 Samuel J. Duboff award was presented jointly to the accounting firm of Eisner LLP and the financial services firm of Mellon Trust of New York, LLC for their pro bono work on behalf of victims of the September 11th, 2001 attack. Modern Courts’ Chair, Fern Schair, presented the awards at the organization’s Annual Meeting to Richard Eisner and Larry Torella of Eisner LLP, and Jami McGlaughlin and Scott S. Small of Mellon Trust of New York, LLC.
The 2002 Duboff Award recipients improved the administration of justice in New York by assisting low-income families of victims who were kitchen staff at Windows on the World and maintenance workers in the World Trade Center. Many of these victims were recent immigrants who spoke limited English, and earned annual wages of between $20,000 and $25,000. As non-lawyer volunteers, Eisner provided tax assistance and financial planning to more than 40 surviving families. Similarly, Mellon Trust served as Personal Administrator for, and donated financial management services to, more than 70 surviving families that lost a loved one.
The 2002 Duboff Awardees were nominated by New York Lawyers for thePublic Interest, with letters of support received from the law firms Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton and Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft.
The 2001 Duboff Award was presented on December 12, 2001 to the Capital District Court Monitors (CDCM). The CDCM have a long record of distinguished service. Their detailed, thorough, and comprehensive reports helped lead to the new Rensselaer County Family Court and the new Troy city Court. More recently, their report on the Schenectady County Family Court led to the formation of a court facilities task force. Not content to rest on their laurels, the CDCM are presently monitoring the Saratoga County Family Court.
CDCM projects are noteworthy for the media attention they generate, and the tangible results they produce. The CDCM represent the best in nonlawyer, citizen participation in the administration of justice, and embody perfectly the spirit of the Duboff Award.
The 1999 Duboff Award was presented on April 5, 2000 to the volunteers of My Sister’s Place, a full-service battered women’s organization in Westchester County. More than 120 people were in attendance to hear New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer deliver opening remarks and present the award.
Immediately following the award presentation, there was a panel discussion devoted to the “Domestic Violence Cases and the Courts: Strategies and Results in Addressing Unseen Injuries.” Panelists included Hon. Joan Cooney, the Supervising Judge of the Westchester County Family Courts; Gretchen Mullins Kim, Legal Director for My Sisters’ Place; Lisi Lord, Assistant Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place; and Jayne, a domestic violence survivor. The event was made possible by the generosity of ITT Industries.