Professor Theo Liebmann, director of Hofstra Law’s Youth Advocacy Clinic, and Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, administrator of New York City’s Family Courts, have been named co-chairs of a new Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court. New York State’s chief administrative judge, Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, announced the formation of the council and the appointment of its members on Oct. 5, 2015.
The council will work to address the concerns of judges, the bar, litigants and others about a topic of increasing public interest: immigration-related issues arising in Family Court.
“There are an increasing number of ways … that immigration issues are involved in Family Court proceedings,” Professor Liebmann said on Oct. 5. “These are things like international adoption issues, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and adverse consequences of findings in Family Court.”
The council members — statewide representatives from the courts, state government, legal services providers, law firms, law schools and community-based organizations — were chosen for their expertise in the adjudication of Family Court matters in which federal immigration law is relevant. Among them is Hofstra Law alumna Trinh Tran ’12, a staff attorney at the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families. (See the media advisory [PDF] for a complete list of members.)
Among other goals, the group will work to
• enhance training programs to better prepare Family Court judges to manage proceedings involving immigration-related issues;
• foster communication and coordination among the justice system players and other stakeholders to streamline case processing and ensure the fair administration of justice in these complex matters; and
• advance public education and other programs targeting the needs of litigants in these cases.
Members of the council will engage in outreach and education efforts, also proposing new court rules and legislative reforms to address relevant issues.