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Monday, February 27, 2012

OCA Offers Guidelines to Govern Public Access to Family Court

OCA Offers Guidelines to Govern Public Access to Family Court
The New York Law Journal by John Caher - December 20, 2011

The Office of Court Administration yesterday issued a set of guidelines for Family Court judges to ensure that the court—presumptively open since 1997 to the public and press—does not exclude anyone without good cause. In a memo to the administrative judges, Justice A. Gail Prudenti, the chief administrative judge, set forth the following guidelines for compliance with Rule 205.4 of the Uniform Rules of the Family Court:

• In a respectful manner, court staff may ask each person who seeks entrance to a courtroom if he or she is a party, witness or otherwise associated with a specific calendared case.
• A person who wishes to observe the proceedings will be permitted to sit in the courtroom subject to the limitations of courtroom capacity.
• Courtroom staff will inform the judge if there is a member of the press or an observer in the courtroom and whether or not he or she has any role in the case.
• When a case is called, the judge may advise the parties that there is an observer in the courtroom and ask if anyone has an objection.
• On a case-by-case basis, prior to ordering exclusion, the judge must make findings, based on supporting evidence, that the exclusion is warranted.

"The courtrooms are open to the public, and have been since 1997, when Rule 205.4 went into effect," Justice Prudenti said in an interview. "The chief judge was deeply concerned that Rule 205.4 was not being followed." Rule 205.4 was adopted by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman 14-years-ago as part of a series of Family Court reforms. Under the rule, judges are supposed to exclude the public only if the person is likely to cause a disruption, one of the parties objects for a compelling reason or when the protection of children "requires that some or all observers be excluded from the courtroom." Still, exclusion is deemed a last-resort and Rule 205.4 specifically says that if less restrictive alternatives are available, they should be employed. Justice Prudenti's memo was issued in the wake of a Nov. 18 New York Times article, "Family Courts Say Keep Out, Despite Order," in which a reporter attempted to enter 40 courtrooms and was denied access to 35 of them in one week. According to the Times, the reporter was routinely questioned by court staff, who demanded to know who he was and why he wanted to visit Family Court, and rebuffed 90 percent of the time, despite Rule 205.4. Chief Judge Lippman "really feels strongly…that public awareness of the critical work that the courts do every day is important, very important, to gaining public trust and confidence," Justice Prudenti said. Judges will retain the discretion to close their courtrooms, but only after making findings to justify excluding the public, she said. The guidelines distributed yesterday "are not intended to interfere with the inherent and statutory discretion of the judge. The statute is clear: The judge has inherent discretion [to close a courtroom], but must make findings."

Brooklyn Family Court Judge Daniel Turbow, president of the New York City Family Court Judges' Association, in a letter published in the Law Journal last week (NYLJ, "Public Access to Family Court," Dec. 16, 2011) argued that judges do not routinely close courts. However, Judge Turbow also said the "unique nature of [Family Court] proceedings and the physical structure of the courtrooms themselves preclude open entry without any type of inquiry." The guidelines issued yesterday seem to take those concerns into consideration, according to Queens Family Court Judge Margaret McGowan, who will take over Jan. 1 as president of the New York City Family Court Judges' Association. "We have to ask certain questions, obviously, to know who is who on a case to keep people apart, and whether there are any reporters so that someone can make an objection if they want to," Judge McGowan said. Erie County Family Court Judge Janice M. Rosa (See Profile), the supervising judge in the eight counties of Western New York, said the memo that went out yesterday "just puts down in writing what we have already been doing." She said openness has never been an issue in the Family Courts in the Buffalo region. "To me, an informed public, an informed community, an informed reporter [has] exactly the kind of information that I as a judge want my community to know about, so they can do what is necessary to take care of these problems," Judge Rosa said. "It is only when the community knows about the people who come in our doors that we as a society will be able to help everybody. I wish [the media] was here every day to report on what we do." Judge Rosa said that when reporters visit her courtroom she asks them only to "be respectful of the litigants, understand the stress that these folks are under, especially when they are writing about a juvenile offense." She added: "It really is totally a non-issue here." John Caher can be contacted at


Anonymous said...

It really bothers me that the entire New York State court system is a jumble of different rules. Years ago OCA made a big deal of New York's newly implemented "UNIFORM COURT SYSTEM." There is nothing uniform about NY's court system except the common denominator of confusion.

Anonymous said...

The UNIFORM COURT SYSTEM..AKA..OCA is only such when OCA decided to organizationally take over the entire state courts in the 90's..officially by force.. so they could rule with an iron fist and become the mega power they all so wanted..Judy Kaye being the biggest beast of them all and who started it all!

NYC Administration of all courts throughout, has imposed a syndicate environment that assures exclusive power for the NYC court system, with convoluted determinations mandated by them only, according to the type of queries and issues that each very diverse section of NY State is experiencing. You cannot have all courts with the same operational rules.. in a STATE like NY.

The affect overall is that all the corruption remains in tact in just one large region of downstate, where no 9 hr travel distance North, could ever completely circumvent that agenda, where there is almost a total opposite life style with lots more of the small town set of morals!

This relates to the view, that OCA saw that outside downstate, things were catering to a less vicious and corrupt style of operation.

Not until downstate OCA came to all of the rest of NY State, did you see the manifestation of the horrible and nasty political corruption in the criminal form it has taken on today..created back from mid 1990's.

Bless anyone who goes to Family Ct and identifies themselves as a Reporter or Court I have said before..once that word gets around the it does the minute they tell the offices below the courtrooms..phones start ringing off the hook to the clerks within seconds...then the courtroom behavior is wholly different and way more purified.

Rat Catcher said...

When the bright light shines in, the roaches but on their masks and black robes and play act.

Anonymous said...

Some one please help. i was laid off 9/8/11 After being Empoyed at the same job for 22 years. I went to family court nassau county NY. right away. the magistrate told me i cant have a downward mod. but could try again in 2012. I got a job 01/01/12 My ex works off the book and also runs her own all cash business. I have a court date 03/12/12 . I ha desperateve fallen behind in support for the first time and am making much less money. I just want to be a dad and pay whats fair. I cant bare the thought of going back to court, im not lawyer and can afford one. And i am desperate. I'm uneducated underemployed and cant d this anymore .

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't there be a rate chart so you know the cost of getting (buying) "justice?"

Anonymous said...

to: 7:53

I'm not certain, but you may be entitled to an attorney as this concerns children.

You can try calling the court, or there maybe an organization that provides attorneys for people who can't afford them for civil cases out there. (Didn't Lippman make representation in civil cases one of the things he was going to have the courts provide? Maybe try his office to ask about this.)

Unfortunately, this is a nightmare that far to many people are in.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to investigate NYC Judge Laura Drager. She's either insane or corrupt. Check out what people think of her at

Anonymous said...

Judge Laura Drager is corrupt. Look at the known cases, Stephanie Lerner, Chana Taub, Susan Gass etc. There are many many more Drager victims! My ex bought her too. He stole my daughter's Trust Fund with the help of Ken Burrows and the judge. It cost me $30k to reargue to recoup what was in our Stipulation that Judge Drager couldn't be bothered to read. Did I get a penny in legal fees? No! I can enumetate 15 other glaring illegal things my ex is permitted to do, or goes against our Stipulation, yet Laura Drager sanctions. I give notice of default constantly, yet my ex isn't fprced to comply. Judge Laura Drager is for sale to the monied spouse which means usually the kids and women suffet...

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm is it true that to buy justice in Laura Drager's court room, contact Ira Garr to make a "donation?" Wasn't Ira Garr her court attorney for a long time?

This screaming shrew should be jailed for the atrocious crime of selling rulings to the monied spouse. She disregards facts and ignores due process. Why did that Greta Van Sustern investigation go no where? When is the NYT going to get a Head of Legal not married into the NYS Supreme Court, so there can be true legal court reporting? The scandal ongoing at NYS SC makes Penn State seem nominal...hello feds and law enforcement everywhere!

Anonymous said...

The Growing Pandemic Of White Female Abuse Of Minority Males In Relationships In America

There is a growing trend in the United States since approximately 1994 with the enactment of the Violence Against Womens Act (“VAWA”) which has seen a dramatic increase in domestic violence, abuse, harassment and other forms of relationship criminal activity perpetrated by white female abusers against minority males in relationships.

White women, and women in general, have felt empowered by the VAWA laws that suspend the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 13th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution in that an arrest becomes mandatory in a domestic disturbance even when there is no evidence, and have often taken out their aggression against minority males in relationships, because they (rightly) perceive that society as a whole, the courts, their families and friends, and law enforcement will most often see them as the victims of abuse, simply because they are dating a minority male, and their families will also often aggressively take their side when it comes to domestic disturbances, often quickly healing years of family dysfunction, even when there is ample proof that those white females were the originators, instigators, and provocateurs of that domestic abuse (often times these women’s psychoses were actually brought on and exacerbated by years of their own family dysfunction).

It is very commonly reported that those white females, during their relationships with minority males, will often lambast and humiliate minority males in their relationships, calling them names such as “nigger,” or “terrorist,” or “spic,” or whatever racial epithet comes to mind, while often making threats to that minority male that “no one will believe you” and “I can do whatever I want to you.”

It is a well known fact that often times bullying or psychopathic females will flock to relationships where they enjoy the upper hand, or the superior bargaining position, and will often view or state that these minority males are “lucky to have them in the first place” because of society’s warped and unequal view of race relations in America.

Therefore those sociopathic bullying females will often wreak absolute hell on their minority male partners in the relationship, often dishing out daily abuse, violence, threats, harassment, stalking, bullying, cheating, deceit, extortion, and blackmail, and will more than often, completely get away with it.

Often times law enforcement will ignore the cries of help and complaints filed by these minority males completely, until the white female abuser actually calls for help.

If those white females feel that they have had enough, they simply call 911 and will be greeted by a throng of beefy white male police officers and detectives, who in addition to siding with the white female because she is a female, and relish the feeling of being the “white knight” or “man with the white hat” hero, will often mete out harsh justice and aggression to the minority male, in anger and rage that he dared to date “one of their own” in the first place.

The result is a perfect storm - and a dangerous storm for the minority male.

He will quickly see his world fall apart not only as a male falsely accused of domestic violence, but will also experience state-sanctioned racism and discrimination from the beginning, completely without any human/civil/constitutional rights, all the way into the criminal, family, and civil courts.

This is a hopelessly sad situation, but unfortunately has further ruined and eroded race relations in America, and helps to keep fear alive, and the different races separated in America for fear of the double-whammy that male minorities are subjected to, once embroiled and wrapped up in a situation such as the above.

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