Chief Judge DiFiore holds statewide hearing on Civil Legal Services

November 14, 2016

“Area Business leader Ed Swyer and Third Department Presiding Justice, Karen Peters participate in Statewide Hearing on the need for Civil Legal Services in New York State”

ALBANY, N.Y. – On Tuesday September 27th, 2016 Chief Judge of New York will convene a statewide hearing on Civil Legal Services with all four Presiding Justices of New York  While regional hearings have been convened in the past, this is the first time panelists from across the state will gather at the NY Court of Appeals to address the need for, and impact of, Judiciary Civil Legal Services funding. It is also the first hearing Chief Judge DiFiore has convened on access to civil legal services.

Among the witnesses will be local business leader Ed Swyer who will testify to the economic and social consequences of the lack of sufficient civil legal services. He is joined by 14 other witnesses including former Chief Judge of New York the Honorable Jonathan Lippman. The complete witness list is attached.

Ed Swyer, President, the Swyer Companies & Stuyvesant Plaza, Inc. has long been a supporter of various civil legal service organizations and related projects throughout the Capital Region.

“As a business leader in the Capital Region, I am concerned not only about the quality of life of our residents—including those seeking legal help—but also, with the economic impact of this assistance.   I am keenly aware of the need for those services that provide stability and offer economic support to those most in need.   Legal services does just that.  Providing legal assistance to those at risk of homelessness, those confronting domestic violence and those in need of economic support not only assists individual families but provides overall stability in the community.  We have seen for example how widespread a neighborhood’s devastation can become when just one or two homes on a block go into foreclosure.  The impact on the family becomes the impact on the block becomes the impact on the neighborhood and community – driving down housing prices and diminishing tax collections.”  (Ed Swyer, Hearing testimony)

The Chief Judge will be joined by all four Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions: Acting Presiding Justice Peter Tom of the First Department, Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng of the Second Department, Presiding Justice Karen K. Peters of the Third Department, Presiding Justice Gerald J. Whalen of the Fourth Department, as well as New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, and the President of the New York State Bar Association, Claire Gutekunst.

The hearings have been convened by Chief Judge Di Fiore with the assistance of the members of the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice. Capital Region members of the Commission include: Anne Erickson, President  & CEO of the Equal Justice Commission, Lillian Moy, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and Camille Siano Enders, Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York.

Lillian Moy notes “It is exciting that Albany will host this first statewide hearing.  The witnesses will demonstrate why funding civil legal services makes sense for all of New York as well as the impact that the funding for judicial legal services has had on client’s lives”

The Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, is chaired by former President of the  Legal Services Corporation Helaine Barnett. The Commission seeks to further increase the availability of effective legal assistance for New Yorkers grappling with matters affecting their most basic needs. This entails assisting the Chief Judge in holding public hearings relating to its mandate, conducting relevant research and issuing annual reports to the Chief Judge with its findings and recommendations.



Deanne L. Grimaldi
Legal Aid Society of NNY
[email protected]