Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that he has appointed eight new judges to sit on the bench in New York City’s Civil and Family Courts, sidestepping criticism he received last year from a member of City Council who expressed concerns about the effects of vacancies on the bench.
De Blasio made two appointments to Family Court: Lisa Friederwitzer, who has spent 20 years working for the court system as court attorney referee in Queens Supreme Court and as a support magistrate and court attorney in Family Court; and Lynn Leopold, a 17-year veteran of the city’s Law Department who previously spent 11 years with the New York City Housing Authority and who began her legal career as a Brooklyn prosecutor.
The mayor also made six interim appointments to the city’s Civil Court.
They include Jonathan Shim, a Queens solo practitioner who specializes in matrimonial and Family Court cases; Michael Hartofilis, a former Queens prosecutor who has spent the last 22 years as a solo criminal defense attorney; and Marisol Martinez Alonso, who has spent 16 years with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
The other appointees are Edwin Novillo, who has worked criminal defense for the last 14 years in Brooklyn and Queens for the Legal Aid Society; Ann Thompson, who worked in private practice before she joined the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, where she worked her way up to deputy bureau chief of the office’s special victims unit; and Jeffrey Zimmerman, who recently served in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice after spending 17 years with Time Warner Cable, where he worked as deputy general counsel.
Shim will be assigned to Family Court while the other five appointees will be assigned to Criminal Court, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
The one-year, interim appointments to the Civil Court —which hears matters referred by state Supreme Court justices and cases involving amounts up to $25,000 —are intended to fill vacancies left by Civil Court judges who have been appointed to serve as acting justices on the state Supreme Court.
With the new addition of six judges to the Civil Court, the mayor has filled nine of 12 vacancies on the bench, said New York City Councilman Rory Lancman, who chairs the council’s Committee on Courts and Legal Services, in a news release applauding the appointments. Lancman has recently been critical of de Blasio for leaving interim Civil Court seats open, which he said exacerbates delays in processing cases.