Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 20th annual William J. Brennan lecture at NYU Law School. This lecture series focuses on social justice and the administration of state courts. I've been to a few of these addresses in the past and they always seem to bring out the A-game of whoever is speaking (usually, state court chief justices). This year was no exception as New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman gave a spirited defense of his advocacy on behalf of civil legal aid to the poor. I am not an unbiased observer, of course -- I consider Judge Lippman a friend and mentor -- but I think that what he has done in this area is nothing short of remarkable. It certainly goes well beyond what one would typically expect of a state court chief judge. For anyone who hasn't followed this issue closely, the speech is well worth a read, since it summarizes five years of effort on multiple fronts to close the justice gap.
Speaking of leadership, yesterday New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the remainder of his criminal justice team. (Remember that he announced Bill Bratton as New York Police Department commissioner in December at an event held at the Red Hook Community Justice Center.) The team includes Ana Bermudez as Probation commissioner and Joseph Ponte as Correction commissioner, and Vinny Schiraldi in a new role focusing on improving the school disciplinary process and rethinking how the justice system works with young adults. Finally, de Blasio selected Liz Glazer to serve as the criminal justice coordinator. Forgive me a moment of organizational pride, but she is the second alum of the Center for Court Innovation to serve in this role, following on the heels of John Feinblatt.