New York State Courts Press Release: Update on Virtual Courts

A week ago, there was a statewide rollout of virtual court operations via Skype and teleconferencing for essential and emergency proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 13, 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced that this temporary “virtual court” model is being expanded beyond the limited category of essential and emergency matters.

Over the past two weeks, the New York State Courts’ trial court efforts have centered on arraignments, bail applications, orders of protection and other essential and emergency criminal, family and civil matters. Following a successful transition to a virtual court system for the handling of essential and emergency matters statewide, the court system is extending its focus to include pending tort, asbestos, commercial, matrimonial, trusts and estates, felony, family and other cases, which make up the vast bulk of trial court caseloads. The existing ban on the filing of new “non-essential” matters will remain in effect.

For more information, please visit: https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/PR20_15virtualcourtstortsetc.pdf

New York State Courts Press Release: Virtual Courts Up and Running Statewide

The New York State court system continues to institute a variety of temporary emergency measures to deliver essential justice services during these extraordinary times, with Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks today reporting that virtual court operations−allowing essential and emergency court proceedings to be conducted remotely−are now in effect statewide. The “virtual court” model, which is being implemented on a temporary basis and was introduced in New York City’s Criminal Court and Family Court on March 25, 2020 and March 26, 2020, respectively, has been rapidly expanded in response to the fast- evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, please visit https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/PR20_14virtualcourtsstatewide.pdf.

CPC: Housing Know Your Rights

Due to the ongoing pandemic, community members have been struggling with answers to rent, housing and bill payments during this period of unstable income and job security.

New York State has implemented an eviction moratorium for 90 days, which applies to residential and commercial tenants. The Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) calls upon the New York State legislature to cancel rent for New Yorkers who have been impacted by COVID-19. To support this bill, you can visit the website here at Housing Justice For All.

Info sheets on housing rights are included below in English and Chinese (simplified and traditional).

In the News: TKC Reports on AABANY’s Upcoming Queens Pro Bono Clinic

The Korean Channel (TKC) News, New York and New Jersey’s Korean news channel, recently covered a press conference leading up to AABANY’s upcoming Pro Bono Clinic in Queens conducted in coordination with Sandra Ung, New York State Committeewoman. 

TKC News elaborated on how AABANY plans to provide free legal assistance to Asian-American community members who face significant language barriers and financial obstacles. The Queens Pro Bono Clinic will be held in Ms. Ung’s Flushing Office and will continue on a monthly basis until June. The upcoming March 17th Pro Bono Clinic will focus primarily on Housing Law, the April 15th Clinic on Immigration Law, the May 20th Clinic on Elder Law and Public Benefits, and the June 17th Clinic on Family/Matrimonial/Education Law. 

TKC News interviewed Ms. Ung who expressed her appreciation working with AABANY to provide free legal services through her office. Additionally, the channel expanded on the criminal defense experiences of Eugene Love Kim, a regular volunteer at AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinics, and touched on how his early life has spurred him to stand for his community. 

In an interview with TKC, Mr. Kim stressed that in times of increasing racial tensions because of the Coronavirus outbreak it is important for the members of the Asian-American community to stand in solidarity with one another. As someone who has had the privilege of becoming a lawyer, Mr. Kim believes that he and others like him have a responsibility to help all Asian Americans in need of legal services to provide a brighter future for later generations. The news coverage ends with a request for all viewers in need of services to call to make an appointment. 

Read more about the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in the press release.

Mediators Wanted – Presumptive ADR Initiative

Thanks to the Network of Bar Leaders for sharing this important announcement about the Presumptive ADR Program:

The NYS Unified Court System has launched the Presumptive ADR Program, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) initiative, which will expand existing ADR programs and develop appropriate dispute resolution programs in a broad range of civil cases statewide.

These programs will address various case types and will be implemented systemwide. Some programs will rely on the existing network of ADR programs while others will seek to develop or expand rosters of neutrals who meet the requirements of Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge. Courts may be seeking neutrals for assistance in areas that may include matrimonial and family law, personal injury, trusts and estates and commercial matters.

The court system is seeking to improve diversity in the court rosters and increase outreach in all judicial districts.  The Network of Bar Leaders is in a unique position to help promote ADR practitioners through this recruitment tool.

We encourage prospective neutrals to submit their information on or before March 20, 2020 by completing and submitting the online form at this link: https://forms.gle/SqnP8AG8irbfqt2a9 so that it can be aggregated and provided to the court system to make outreach more efficient when the time comes.

The information you provide will be forwarded to the NYS Unified Court System’s ADR office and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge’s Special Counsel for ADR Initiatives for Courts within NYC and Outside NYC, for their further consideration when the initiative reaches that stage.

Please note that the court system will contact only those respondents whose professional background, formal training, ADR and subject matter experience, and geographic availability meet the current needs of a particular roster. The court system will also communicate directly with you at a later date if they are in need of any additional information.

Congratulations to My Chi To on Being Appointed to Lead the Insurance Division of New York State Department of Financial Services

AABANY congratulates My Chi To on her appointment as Executive Deputy Superintendent of the Insurance Division at the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS). In this role, she will oversee more than 1,400 insurance companies with $4.7 trillion in assets. My Chi To is an AABANY member and was a Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, in the Restructuring Group and Global Insurance Practice.

According to the DFS Press Release which announced her appointment in November, 

My Chi was awarded the Kathryn R. Heidt Memorial Award by the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. She also received the Best Lawyers Under 40 Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. An advocate for women in law and business, she is a member of the Steering Committee of the U.S. 30% Club, a group of business leaders focused on improving the representation of women at all levels of U.S. organizations, including corporate boards. My Chi will join New York state’s Committee for the Advancement of Women in Leadership in Financial Services, which was announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in September.

She received an M.Phil. in Politics from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She received an LL.L. and LL.B. in Civil Law and Common Law from the University of Ottawa and was a law clerk to the Hon. Claire L’Heureux-Dubé of the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court of Canada.

Read the full press release here: Press Release – November 20, 2019: Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell Names My Chi To As Executive Deputy Superintendent of Insurance

The New York Law Journal reported that My Chi is expected to start full-time at DFS at the start of 2020.

Please join AABANY in congratulating My Chi and wishing her success on this important appointment.

AABANY Provides Anti-Sexual Harassment Training to Community Organizations

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) was invited by the Asian American Federation and some of its member agencies – not-for-profit organizations that have substantial Chinese-speaking staff – to help with training their limited-English-proficient staff in their native languages on the prevention of sexual harassment in order to meet the new requirements under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Law.

On behalf of AABANY,  Karen Kithan Yau, a co-chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee and Eric Su, a co-chair of the Labor and Employment Law Committee, both of whom are long-time employment lawyers, representing workers and employers respectively, gave three trainings, one in Cantonese Chinese, one in Mandarin Chinese, and one in English. The trainings took place in late September and early October. The training participants included kitchen and housekeeping staff, part-time teachers, museum staff, policy advocates, and an executive director. The discussion was rich, lively, and illuminating.

Every New York State employer is now required to provide sexual harassment training o their employees annually. That means that, as of October 9, 2019, every employer should have provided their first such training. Moreover, the New York State and City laws now protect virtually all employees, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or others providing services from sexual harassment in the workplace. Thus the need to provide linguistically and culturally competent instruction is acute. The New York City Human Rights Commission has provided impressive training materials, including online trainings in 11 languages. However, there remain employees who will need training in their native languages. Experienced employment attorneys or skilled trainers of human resources areas who are linguistically and culturally competent will continue to be needed.

Learn more about AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee here. Learn more about AABANY’s Labor and Employment Law Committee here. Thanks to Karen and Eric for providing these trainings to organizations serving the Asian American community.

New York State Complete Count Commission Announces Public Events to Prepare for 2020 Census

Beginning March 4 in Rochester, the New York State Complete Count Commission will hold six public hearings across the state for input from Census experts, advocates, and the general public about how to best ensure a complete count of New Yorkers in the 2020 census.

The Complete Count Commission, appointed last month, is tasked with building upon the sweeping efforts already underway to prepare for next year’s federal Census. With these meetings, the Commission is undertaking a multi-year, collaborative strategy involving all state agencies, local and county governments, non-profits and local stakeholders across the state.

Each meeting of the Commission will be open to the public and webcast. The events will feature detailed presentations to the Commission by various entities involved in the census, as well as testimony from advocates, and the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Specific details for public participation in the public comment portion of the events will be forthcoming.

The hearings scheduled are:

Monday, March 4, 2 p.m.
Rochester City Council Chambers
30 Church St.
Rochester, NY 14614

Monday, March 11, 6 p.m.
Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m.
SUNY Sullivan
112 College Road
Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759

Friday, April 12, 3 p.m.
Suffolk County Legislature – William J. Lindsay County Complex – William H. Rogers Building
725 Veterans Memorial Highway
Smithtown, NY 11787

Friday, April 26, 10 a.m.
Mohawk Valley Community College – Utica
1101 Sherman Dr
Utica, NY 13501

Monday, May 6, 6 p.m.
Rockefeller Institute of Government
411 State St
Albany, NY 12203

Additional hearings may be scheduled at a later date.

In addition to the above hearings, members of the Commission will meet with stakeholders across the state to augment efforts.

For more information about the Complete Count Commission and New York’s efforts to ensure a full count in 2020, please visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/2020-census.

Congratulations to Ushir Pandit-Durant on Her Historic Induction as Queens Supreme Court Justice

On December 21, the Hon. Ushir Pandit-Durant made history as the first South Asian judge elected to New York State Supreme Court in Queens and the first South Asian woman judge elected in New York State. Justice Pandit-Duran was sworn in by the Hon. Randall T. Eng (ret.), former Presiding Justice of the Second Department, New York State Appellate Division. Justice Eng was the first Asian American elected judge in New York State so it was especially fitting for one trailblazer in the Asian American community to swear in another trailblazer. Hon. Joseph Zayas, Administrative Judge of the Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term, presided.

Justice Pandit-Duran began her career as a Prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, serving there with distinction for 25 years before being elected to New York City Civil Court in 2015, becoming the first South Asian to hold that elected office.

The induction took place at the Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens. Numerous speakers, including elected officials and community leaders, extolled Justice Pandit-Duran’s exemplification of the American Dream, coming here at age 10 not speaking a word of English and rising up to become a top prosecutor and now judge. As a South Asian, Justice Pandit-Durant reflects the diversity of Queens, one of the most diverse boroughs of New York City, with a large Asian population. Justice Pandit-Durant is herself a bar leader, having served as the first President of the South Asian Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens.

AABANY congratulates Justice Pandit-Durant on her historic election and wishes her continued success and achievement as a Justice of the Supreme Court.