Remembering Judith Kaye: A Pioneer for Women in the Legal Profession and Advocate for Children and Families

 

By: Mallory McGee

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On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye passed away at the age of 77 years old, leaving behind a legacy as an advocate for social justice who paved the way for many women in the legal profession.

 

Born Judith Ann Smith on August 4, 1938 in Monticello, New York to Polish immigrants Benjamin and Lena, Judge Kaye skipped two grades and was admitted to Barnard College at the age of fifteen. At Barnard, she studied Latin American Civilization and worked for local newspapers in the hopes of pursuing a career in journalism. Post graduation, Judge Kaye landed her first journalism job at the Hudson Dispatch, a newspaper in Union City, New Jersey where she reported on the society pages. In the hopes of furthering her journalism career, she decided to enroll in New York University’s law school. She attended law school part time and worked as a copy editor by day. The law began to appeal to her more and in 1962, Judith Kaye graduated from N.Y.U Law School; she was one of ten women in her graduating class of 300.

 

Following law school graduation, Judge Kaye worked at Sullivan and Cromwell for two years and then went to IBM’s legal department. While raising her family, Judge Kaye worked as an assistant to the dean at N.Y.U. Then she went to Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell & Weyher, where she became the first female partner. Her career took a different turn when former Governor Mario Cuomo stated that if elected, he would appoint the first female judge to the Court of Appeals.… <Read More>


Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court: New York City Regional Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships

By Michael Cabasso, Susan Imam and Emily de la Vega

On October 18, 2013 the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force held a Summit at New York Law School to discuss the issue of keeping kids in school and out of court.

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Background:

The Summit was the culmination of four years of work in New York City led by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye along with Kathleen DeCataldo, the Executive Director of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, and Advocates for Children of New York.  The Task Force is comprised of distinguished community leaders, judges, New York City officials, educators, prosecutors, defense counsel, advocates and researchers who came together in an effort to identify, address, and find solutions for the wide array of problems surrounding school safety and school discipline.  The Summit was further supported by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, with additional funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

This initiative focuses on schools that frequently use suspensions to discipline students who commit offenses while at school, or where students are the most frequently arrested or given a summons to appear in court. Suspensions often result from altercations, physically aggressive behavior, insubordination, and horseplay. Students are most commonly arrested for misdemeanors, with some students arrested for obstructing governmental administration or resisting arrest. The problem with suspensions and arrests is that they can push students further away from receiving an education.  Furthermore, there have been disproportionate numbers of students of color or with disabilities making up a large number of suspensions and arrests.  … <Read More>


Returning Home For a Better Life or Parental Kidnapping?

 

Parental kidnapping has been an issue many people across the country and the world have had to face. Iraq veteran and New Jersey resident Michael Elias alleges that he has experienced it firsthand.  Elias, who returned home from Iraq three years ago, alleges that upon his return, his former wife told him she wanted a divorce. However, if only Elias could foresee what was to come—an international custody battle with his former wife, who is now living with their two children approximately 7,000 miles away in Japan.

Upon divorce, Elias and his former wife were granted joint custody by a Bergen County Court. In order to prevent either parent from taking the children out of the country, the Court directed that the children’s passports be surrendered. With the children’s passports surrendered and a court order of joint custody, Elias thought he had nothing to worry about. 

However, during a routine exchange of the children a few months later, Elias waited for his children to be dropped off for his parenting time. What he didn’t know what that he former wife and their two children were on a plane to Japan, violating the custody order. Since Elias’s former wife worked at the Japanese Embassy, she was able to get new passports for the children. How did she obtain new passports for the children legally and now that she is in Japan with the children, does it really even matter?

Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Parental Kidnapping, so what is Elias supposed to do?… <Read More>


Public Boarding School: The Seed School and the Model it Created

As a person who attended public schools from K-12, I only knew of boarding schools as being expensive alternatives to private schools. In my suburban community outside of Los Angeles, I only heard of children “being sent away” to boarding schools because they were “problem children.”  However, I never really understood the positive impact a boarding school could have on students and the community the school creates. Until watching the movie Waiting for Superman, the concept of a public boarding school never once crossed my mind. As the movie shows, the Seed School of Washington D.C. is a public charter school serving the community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Similar to other charter schools, the Seed School operates on a lottery system when space permits. However, the Seed School is unique- it is a boarding school, free of cost to those who attend and it is located within D.C., close to the students’ friends and families.  Students are permitted to go home on the weekends to spend time with their family, and during the week every student is involved in various extracirricular activities and experiences that they would never have access to without the Seed School.

As a supporter of many charter schools across the country and especially in New York City, I truly believe that New York City would benefit from creating a charter school that is a boarding school and is within the five boroughs of NYC. Having the boarding school within the City’s limits allows for students to remain part of their communities while being safeguarded from the streets of their communities.… <Read More>


12-Year-Old Likely to Escape Life in Prison

Cristian seen with his attorney

The prosecution in the case of Cristian Fernandez has decided not to seek life in prison, something that came as a relief to many across the nation.  In June 2011, the state of Florida charged 12-year-old, Cristian Fernandez, with the first-degree murder of his younger half-brother, David Galarriago.  At that moment, Cristian faced the possibility of becoming the youngest individual in the state’s history to serve a life sentence in prison.

On the afternoon of David’s death, Cristian’s mother, Biannela Susana, left the two children alone in their apartment.  She returned to find David unconscious from a beating administered by Cristian.  Instead of taking David to the hospital, she iced his wounds and began browsing the web.  She searched for information on David and Victoria Beckham, Pippa Middleton, checked her e-mail, accessed her on-line bank account, and researched information on David’s symptoms.   As a result, David died a few hours later.  At the time of his death, David was listed as having suffered from a fractured skull, bleeding in his brain, and bruising to his left eye and nose.

Both Cristian and the mother were arrested; Cristian on charges of first-degree murder, and his mother on manslaughter charges.

Change.org sent an on-line petition asking its recipients to request leniency on Cristian’s behalf.  While Florida prosecutors made the decision to charge Cristian as an adult, their office claims  that they never really wanted to push for a life sentence.  Still, the prosecution is adamant about the fact that Cristian must pay for his crime. … <Read More>