Embattled judges and vulnerable children are among the issues to be taken up this week as more than 5,000 lawyers gather at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square for the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association.
State bar President Kathryn Grant Madigan said the group wants to keep the subject of securing a pay raise for the state’s 1,300 judges front and center during the meeting, so all registrants will receive a lapel button with the slogan “Justice for Judges.”
The buttons “will be three or four inches in diameter so they are going to jump out,” Ms. Madigan said. “It’s the least we can do. It is all about making the judges understand that the bar is behind them on this.”
Raising judicial pay is again the state bar’s top lobbying priority in Albany this year.
Judges facing a different struggle will also be acknowledged at the meeting, when the International Law and Practice Section tomorrow gives its annual award for distinction in international law and affairs in absentia to Aitzaz Ahsan, on behalf of the lawyers and judges of Pakistan. Much of that country’s legal and judicial community has been in conflict with Pakistan’s leadership since President Perves Musharraf suspended the constitution and replaced seven of the 11 members of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Ahsan, president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, has been under frequent arrest for his efforts to restore Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as chief justice.
Earlier this month, the New York City Bar Association granted honorary membership to Justice Chaudhry ( NYLJ, Jan. 15). In November, the city and state bars, as well as the New York County Lawyers’ Association, organized a rally attended by about 700 people at Manhattan Supreme Court in support of Pakistan’s lawyers and judges ( NYLJ, Nov. 9, 2007).
Other issues will be touched on 2 � 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Presidential Summit, which has become a premier program at the annual meeting.
The first session, “Breaking the Cycle for Youth at Risk,” will focus on using the latest research on adolescents development to provide better services to troubled children.
Ms. Madigan said in an interview that much of the research indicates that 16- and 17-year-olds often lack basic awareness of the implications of their actions. She said she hopes the discussion will dramatize the need to increase the maximum age of youth over which the Family Court has jurisdiction from 16 to 18.
Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, who has emphasized making the courts more family friendly, will moderate the discussion about at-risk youth. Others scheduled for the panel are Ms. Madigan, Children’s Zone President Geoffrey Canada, acting Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Corriero of Manhattan, former American Bar Association President Karen J. Mathis and University of Massachusetts Professor Thomas Grisso.
The second half of the presidential summit is titled “Providing Legal Services in a Globalized World: Radical Change, Opportunity or Both?” Proskauer Rose partner Steven C. Krane, a former state bar president, will lead a discussion about the delivery of legal services to clients engaged in the global economy.
Scheduled to sit on the panel are: St. John’s University Law School Dean Mary C. Daly; James P. Duffy III of Butzel Long; former state bar President James C. Moore of Harter Secrest & Emery; Laurel S. Terry, professor at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law; and Calvin Hamilton, a partner at Monereo Meyer Marinel-Lo, Abogados in Madrid, Spain.
Other highlights during the 131st annual meeting include:
� Former Judge Albert Rosenblatt of the Court of Appeals tomorrow will receive the Stanley H. Fuld Award for outstanding contributions to commercial law and litigation from the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section.
� The Business Law section will present a session tomorrow on the subprime mortgage “meltdown” and its effects, especially on members of ethnic and racial minority groups.
� New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. will speak tomorrow at the Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law and Trial Lawyers annual dinner.
� State Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell, Eastern District Judge John Gleeson and Justice Steven W. Fisher of the Appellate Division, Second Department, will speak Thursday on sentencing issues before the Criminal Justice Section.
� The Committee on Media Law will focus on how attorneys should deal with reporters when they find themselves and their clients involved in a public relations maelstrom. George Freeman, general counsel to The New York Times Company, will moderate a panel Thursday that includes author Jeffrey Toobin,.
� On Friday, the House of Delegates will be asked to accept two task force reports on improving town and village courts and on the fair use of eminent domain.
Task Force Recommendations
The town and village court panel was formed last summer to amplify on the findings of two earlier reports on New York’s court structure by commissions appointed by Chief Judge Kaye. The state bar panel’s report agreed with the group’s stated position that all town and village justices should be attorneys, but its report this week concedes that is not “likely to take place in the short term.”
Instead, it recommends ways to encourage more attorneys to serve on the so-called justice courts and that more serious criminal cases be transferred to courts where the justices are lawyers.
The eminent domain panel was appointed in the wake of the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 125 S.Ct. 2655 (2005), which validated the government’s taking of land for private development.
The state bar task force is recommending that a series of steps be instituted in New York to better describe the anticipated public benefits and public drawbacks when private land is appropriated for redevelopment and to guarantee due process for all citizens holding property being taken by the government through an imminent domain proceeding.
The State Bar Task Force on Town and Village Courts and Task Force on Eminent were both chaired by Patricia E. Salkin, associate dean and director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School.
- Joel Stashenko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.