Weekly Round-Up: March 21, 2014


  • Yesterday, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina testified at a City Council Budget Hearing.  Chalkbeat (previously Gotham Schools) outlined “5 things we learned” from yesterday’s council meeting.  These “5 things” include plans for more dual language programs and emphasis on art education, as well as changes to teacher evaluations.  To read about the “5 things” please click here.

Family Court

  • As the New York State Budget deadline is approaching, the New York State Bar Association is urging the state legislature to increase the number of Family Court Judgeships in the 2014 budget. NYSBA’s President, David Schraver, stated that “Increasing the number of Family Court judges is a top priority of the New York State Bar Association.” In the 2014 State of the Judiciary Address, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman stated that legislative action is required to address the crisis in Family Court, and called for the creation of 20 new Judgeships. In addition, the 2013 Family Court Task Force Report illustrated the current burden on the Family Court system and how additional Judgeships would greatly alleviate this burden. The proposed Legislative and Judiciary Budget Bill can be viewed here.

Health Care

  • The Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing arguments about one of the more controversial points of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  The issue in question is the provision that requires certain for-profit companies to offer insurance benefits for birth control and other health reproductive services without a co-pay.  The issue is whether or not companies can refuse this provision based on the claim that it would violate the owners’ religious beliefs.  
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Weekly Round-Up: February 28, 2014

DALC-Adoption-Conference-Flyer-030714-v1r1-700 Event

  • Join us next Friday, March 7th for the Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference at New York Law School. Topics include Adoption by Same-Sex Couples following Windsor, The Indian Child Welfare Act, and International Adoption. To register for this event, please click here.

Mayoral Appointments

  • Mayor Bill De Blasio has just named Steven Banks, the attorney-in-chief at the Legal Aid Society since 2004 as the new Commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Agency. The HRA provides temporary social service and economic assistance to New York’s individuals and families in need. In a statement about the new appointment (as reported by the New York Law Journal), Banks said that one of his top priorities with HRA is to ensure that every client is treated with dignity. Other appointments announced today include Nisha Agarwal as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Lorraine Grillo as President of School Construction Authority. To read more, click here (nyc.gov) and here (NYLJ).


  • Members of the City Council have called for Mayor de Blasio to provide further assistance for homeless children and families in New York City.  Recently, the City announced a plan to remove several hundred homeless children and their families from shelters with deplorable conditions.  The City Council wants the City to extend more aid and improve living conditions for children and families living in homeless shelters.  For City Council  records about the hearing, including video and the Committee Report, please click here and here.

LGBT Rights

  • This past week saw the veto of a controversial Arizona Bill that could have allowed private businesses to refuse service to patrons purportedly due to religious reasons.  
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NYLS Domestic Violence Panel: The Intersection Between Domestic Violence and Family Law

By Emily de la Vega and Gabriel Hisugan

The Domestic Violence Project hosted its annual domestic violence panel on October 23, 2013, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The panel was intended to give first year and continuing law students a first-hand look inside the various issues surrounding domestic violence. The panel included four distinguished members from the family law community: Referee Emily Martinez, a Custody, Visitation, and Order of Protection Referee from Brooklyn Family Court; Elizabeth Dank, the Program Director of the Staten Island Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence; Shani Adess, a staff attorney with the New York Legal Assistance Group; and Cynthia Domingo-Foraste, the Director of the Domestic Violence Law Project at Safe Horizon. The panel was designed to include members of both the legal and social services communities in order to shed light on the crucial role each field plays in addressing the issue of domestic violence.

The panel responded to and discussed an interactive fact pattern designed to illustrate a situation of domestic violence. Throughout the discussion of the fact pattern, each member of the panel had the opportunity to explain her organization’s role in offering help to a victim. The fact pattern touched on many issues including the effects of unemployment, the lack of resources available to victims, and children being present during the violence. As the discussion developed, new facts were introduced in order to demonstrate the complexity of issues often faced by victims.… <Read More>

Weekly Round-up: December 6th, 2013


~The newly appointed NYPD Commissioner, William Bratton, will now be responsible for school safety in New York City. This February he attended a School Safety Symposium in Purchase, NY that was held in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  The Symposium focused on bringing school officials and law enforcement together in order to discuss working together and integrating mental health services as a way to prevent school related violence. Bratton, a speaker at the symposium, promoted the idea of inter-agency collaboration in order to prevent school shootings. (CBS New York)

~ One of the major issues that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will face in the upcoming months is contract negotiation with the New York City teachers’ union, The United Federation for Teachers.  The teachers’ contract ran out in 2009 and has yet to be renewed due to a contract dispute.  The following article outlines the larger points of contention. (Education Week)


~Cesar Vargas completed law school and passed his bar examination.  Upon the completion of his bar exam, the  Committee responsible for evaluating his character and fitness rated him “stellar.”  After this rating, the Committee recommended that Vargas not be admitted to the State Bar due to the fact that he is an unauthorized immigrant. Vargas came to the United States from Mexico at age 5. He is challenging the Committee’s decision.  You can read about the story here.  (NY Times)

Juvenile Rights

~ In In Re Edwin S. the Family Court (Queens County) addressed the use of simplified Miranda Warnings for juveniles.… <Read More>