Lippman Proposes Student Pro Bono Program

, New York Law Journal

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Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, center, receives applause after delivering his State of the Judiciary address at the Court of Appeals in Albany, on Tuesday.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, center, receives applause after delivering his State of the Judiciary address at the Court of Appeals in Albany, on Tuesday.

Roger Maldonado of Balber Pickard Maldonado & Van Der Tuin in Manhattan said the "navigators" will be supervised by groups that provide services to the poor, such as University Settlement in Manhattan.

Maldonado co-chaired a task force that developed the program for non-lawyers at Lippman's behest, along with Fern Schair of the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University Law School (NYLJ, May 29, 2013).

Lippman also said he will submit legislation that would automatically expunge the record of a misdemeanor conviction if an offender has gone seven years without being re-arrested. The legislation also would allow courts, in the interest of justice, to expunge records of nonviolent felonies if there has been no rearrest in 10 years.

The expungement policies would not apply to sex offenses, public corruption cases and DWI-related offenses, the chief judge said.

Regardless of how that legislation ends, the chief judge said he has ordered that, as of April 1, the Office of Court Administration will not provide data on misdemeanor convictions of individuals who have no other previous criminal convictions and who have not been re-arrested within 10 years of the date of their convictions.

An isolated conviction for a minor offense should not deprive someone of a "second chance for a promising future," he said.

Additionally, Lippman will designate judges in each county to hear all felony and misdemeanor DWI cases, an approach that would allow the courts to develop judges with special expertise on impaired driving and strategies to combat it.

"As experts have recognized, a key component of achieving deterrence in DWI cases is certain, consistent and coordinated sentencing," Lippman said.

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