I read with interest the column by Glenn S. Koopersmith published in the Feb. 7 print edition of the New York Law Journal entitled “Consideration of Post-Trial Events on Custody Appeals.” Mr. Koopersmith eloquently discusses the dilemma faced by appellate courts generally and this Court particularly when a significant change of circumstances occurs during the pendency of an appeal. Whether and when the appellate court may properly consider such developments, which are perforce outside the record, is vexing where the welfare of a child is at stake.
In an effort to try to shorten the time between the taking of an appeal and its decision in matters involving children, this Court, under the leadership of then Presiding Justice A. Gail Prudenti, instituted a process whereby Family Court Case Managers, who are appellate court clerks, work in conjunction with counsel, litigants and appeals coordinators in the courts within the Second Department to actively-manage all appeals arising from proceedings in the Family Court, as well as all Supreme Court matters where the welfare of children are involved. The Active Case Management Office within this Court continues, with the cooperation of the Family and Supreme Courts throughout the Second Department, to make every effort to shorten the time it takes for such matters to be resolved by this Court. All such matters are expedited in this Court, and are heard on a “preferred basis.” While our Court, regrettably, has a significant backlog in civil cases generally, the priority given to child custody cases has enabled us to resolve these matters expeditiously. As part of my new responsibilities as Presiding Justice, I will be reviewing our procedures in order to reduce the time for appeals to be heard and decided.
Attorneys who have appeals pending in this Court involving the custody or welfare of children are invited to contact the Clerk, at firstname.lastname@example.org to assure that their appeals are being perfected and calendared as expeditiously as possible.
Alan Scheinkman is the presiding justice of the Second Department.