I practiced in these courts in the mid-1980s, representing low-income clients in custody, neglect and child-support matters. Back then many Family Court judges routinely got on the bench late, court-appointed lawyers regularly failed to appear, and court officers treated with disdain the litigants who thronged the waiting areas until the late afternoon hoping that their cases would be called.Exposing will not be enough. The public must then be convinced that there is a better way.
Important matters, such as child custody cases, were often adjourned multiple times; months, even years, elapsed before decisions were issued. Those who ran the Family Courts then were largely white; the people who mistakenly depended on these institutions for justice and some sensitivity were largely black or brown.
I suspect that little has changed in these Family Courts. That may be why their power structures react with fear to the opening of their doors to reporters or any other interested person. Exposing these enclaves to the light of public scrutiny is the only hope for curing their dysfunction.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
More on NY family courts
The NY Times published a couple of letters in response to its family court secrecy article, including: