Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brian Lehrer Show

It looks like I will end the month as I began it -- with a celebration of Judith Kaye. Today, she appears on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss her tenure and legacy. Among other things, she discusses the Staten Island youth court.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Staten Island Youth Court

I'm in Minnesota visiting my wife's family for the holidays. Before I left for vacation, I managed to sneak away to Staten Island for the groundbreaking of a new courthouse, which was presided over by Mayor Bloomberg and Chief Judge Kaye. If I am not mistaken, the groundbreaking is going to turn out to be Kaye's last public event as chief judge. Aside from my sentimental attachment to Kaye, the reason for my attendance was that the event doubled as an announcement of the new Staten Island Youth Court. Kaye and the local DA (Dan Donovan) both talked about the new initiative, which seeks to build on the Red Hook and Harlem models by handling cases referred by criminal court judges, family court judges, probation and police. We had more than a dozen kids at the groundbreaking. For their trouble, they got special pencils from Judge Kaye and their photo taken with the Mayor. All in all, it was a lovely way to kick off the holiday break. Congrats to Al, Raye, Jackie R., Jackie S., Melissa and everyone else who helped get the youth court going in record time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Party

Last night's holiday party was a powerful reminder of both the talent and decency of everyone connected to the Center. The food was amazing. The office was utterly transformed. The conversation was lively and engaging. And Maggie didn't get trapped in an elevator. All in all, just about a perfect night. Thanks to everyone who helped to organize, cook and clean up. It really was a special event.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Judge Kaye's Example

Today's NYTimes has a nice editorial looking back on Judge Kaye's career and trumpeting her achievements, including her commitment to problem-solving justice. The editorial concludes by endorsing Jonathan Lippman to succeed her:

Beyond legal philosophy, the pressing issue for Governor Paterson is which candidate is most likely to continue Judge Kaye’s hard-won progress toward effective and responsive access to justice for all New Yorkers. There are a number of good choices, but we believe Jonathan Lippman, who presides over the intermediate appellate court in Manhattan, has the edge — because of his experience as the state’s longtime chief administrative judge and as Judge Kaye’s partner in reform.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

National Institute of Justice

I spent Thursday and Friday in Washington DC at a small roundtable convened by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). NIJ brought together a handful of criminal justice wonks (including the heads of the National Center for Victims of Crime, Vera Institute of Justice, Police Executive Research Forum and others) to brainstorm about how NIJ can do a better job of encouraging practitioners to read their research -- and change their practice as a result. As is often the case, I feel like I learned more than I contributed. Todd Clear, a professor at John Jay, wrote a briefing paper for the event that basically encouraged NIJ to "take a deep breath" and acknowledge they are doing a decent job of disseminating knowledge to the field. I left the event thinking that Clear was probably right, although there is always room for improvement, particularly when it comes to reaching practitioners (as opposed to academics).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Judith Kaye

It is clearly going to be a month of (well-earned) Judith Kaye celebrations. Last night, I attended a Bar Association event in her honor. It couldn't have been a more star-studded occasion -- the featured speakers were Jonathan Lippman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gov. David Paterson and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (among others). There were a number of nods to our work, including a photo from Bronx Community Solutions, a reference to the drug court stories book that the Center for Courts and the Community produced, and postive references (by Gov. Paterson) to drug court and domestic violence court. Judge Kaye herself was in fine form, giving a speech that was at once heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny.
As if that were not enough, this week's New Yorker has a short piece on Kaye by Jeffrey Toobin.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Judith Kaye and the Youth Justice Board

Last week saw the opening of NYC's first "teen space" -- a designated space in the Queens Family Court for young adults with permanency cases.  Our youth justice board played an advisory role in helping to conceive and design the space, working in concert with the Permanent Judicial Commission on Children.  Above is a shot of Chief Judge Judith Kaye with two members of the youth justice board at the opening.

Speaking of Kaye, the tributes to her continue to come in as her term winds to a close.  This is a link to a long piece in the Law Journal that reviews her administrative accomplishments that includes references to the Center for Court Innovation, Midtown Community Court, drug courts, domestic violence courts, and the Staten Island Youth Court that we are currently planning, among other things.