Trickle-Down Empowerment: How The New York State Legislature Can Empower Attorneys Who Advocate For Victims of Domestic Violence by Incorporating Social Science Findings When Justifying New Legislation

By Heath Hardman, Albany Government Law Review       

I. Introduction

The fields of social science and psychology continue to make advances in human understanding, and courts sometimes make use of this information.[1]  But how can attorneys broaden their access to this information when representing victims of domestic violence?  One way is by requesting that a court take judicial notice of certain legislative facts concerning domestic violence.  While an attorney can support this request by citing scholarly sources, the court, in its discretion, need not grant the request.[2]  Citing legislative materials, such as sponsor’s memos, letters and statements of support, and bill jackets may increase an attorney’s chances of moving a court to take judicial notice of a legislative fact.[3]  After all, if the legislature cites the fact as part of its justification in enacting a law, and the court is required to enforce the law, surely the fact is compelling.  Indeed, some courts have in fact cited the legislature’s reliance on certain facts when taking judicial notice of legislative facts or relying on them for decision making.[4]

Continue reading “Trickle-Down Empowerment: How The New York State Legislature Can Empower Attorneys Who Advocate For Victims of Domestic Violence by Incorporating Social Science Findings When Justifying New Legislation”

New York’s Court Crisis

By Diana Filkins, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

Even though Governor Andrew Cuomo was able to triumphantly announce the rare, on-time passage of New York’s 2011-2012 state budget, not all parties were happy.  The New York State Unified Court System, for example, took a cut of $170 million dollars.[1]  Immediately after   the budget passed, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman portended that the budget cuts would lead to hundreds of layoffs.[2]  As of April 20, 2011, the beginnings of this prediction came true as 74 employees of the Office of Court Administration were given notice that they would be laid off.[3]  This included two attorneys and is the “court system’s first layoffs since 1991.”  Up to 500 more are expected to lose their jobs.[4]  Further, the system is already running with less employees than usual, due to an early retirement incentive which led to the retirement of 1,700 court personnel.[5]  While the court intended to fill many of these positions, the budget cuts may not allow this to happen.[6]  In an already overburdened court system, how will the budget cuts and layoffs affect the administration of justice? Continue reading “New York’s Court Crisis”