Vance Center Coordinates Amicus Brief Filing in Inter-American Court
This summer, the Vance Center coordinated the drafting of an amicus brief, submitted by the Association’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and many other organizations, in the matter of Karen Atala v. Chile, which is currently before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The case centers on a 2004 Chilean Supreme Court ruling forcing Atala, herself a Chilean judge, to cede custody of her three children to her estranged husband based on her sexual orientation. The issue posed in this case is whether a parent’s sexual orientation can be a basis for determining child custody.
The amicus brief argues that the weight of international authority holds that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates human rights, and that lesbian and gay parenting is compatible with the best interests of a child. The brief was prepared by attorneys at Morrison & Foerster. The groups that signed on to the brief were the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic of the City University of New York, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on behalf of Amnesty International; ARC International; Center for Constitutional Rights; Consultaria para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento; Council for Global Equality; Human Rights Watch; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law; Lawyers for Children, Inc.; Legal Aid Society of New York; Legal Momentum; MADRE; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Economic and Social Rights Initiative; and Women’s Link Worldwide.
Recent Committee Activity
Funding for Civil Legal Services
The Committee on Pro Bono and Legal Services drafted testimony given by City Bar President Samuel W. Seymour at Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's Hearings on Civil Legal Services. The testimony noted that the need for increased civil legal services funding is glaringly apparent, with 2.3 million New Yorkers annually unrepresented in civil legal proceedings in New York State courts. Income generated by IOLA accounts is dramatically down, other funding streams to support civil legal services are drying up, and federal cuts to Legal Services Corporation funding are deep and will likely only deepen in the future. In his testimony, the President called funding for civil legal services a “wise investment” and urged the Judiciary to include a total of $37.5 million to expand civil legal assistance to residents across New York State in the 2012-2013 Budget. This would carry forward the Chief Judge’s plan of adding $100 million over four years to provide adequate legal representation for the poor in New York State.
City Bar in the News
Thomson Reuters, September 28, 2011
Will Accused Galleon Tipster Gupta face indictment?
Only a select group inside the halls of government knows just what’s in store for the onetime Goldman Sachs director [Rajat Gupta]. One of those likely in the know is Richard Zabel, who is set to become the new deputy U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. On Tuesday evening, Zabel was on hand at a New York City Bar Association event. The topic: insider trading. Don’t get too excited. Zabel did not specifically discuss the Gupta case, or even, for that matter, allude to it indirectly. And like all prosecutors, he was careful to add the caveat that anything he said was only his views, and not those of the office he represents. But he did address the question of when an insider-trading case turns the corner from a civil action to a criminal prosecution. One of the panel’s moderators, Steven Peikin of Sullivan & Cromwell, first posed the question to George Canellos, who heads the SEC’s New York office. Canellos said that strictly civil insider trading cases typically involve evidence that’s more “equivocal” than those that also lead to criminal charges. He added that criminal cases have to have “jury appeal” and often involve a significant “personal benefit” for the defendant. Zabel chimed in, adding that his office has never proceeded on a theory that a defendant was “reckless” in providing inside information to someone else.
ProBono.net, September 27, 2011
Epstein Volunteer Awards to Kick off Pro Bono Week at the NY City Bar Justice Center
In honor of the 2011 National Pro Bono Week, the City Bar Justice Center will award a selection of exceptional volunteers with the Jeremy G. Epstein Award for outstanding pro bono service. The awardees are volunteers of the City Bar Justice Center’s projects who have gone above and beyond to foster close relationships with members of their communities in need of pro bono legal assistance…Each nominee is recognized by one of the City Bar Justice Center’s ten projects: the Cancer Advocacy Project, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the Elderlaw Project, the Lawyers Foreclosure Intervention Network, the Immigrant Outreach Project, the Immigrant Women and Children Project, the Legal Clinic for the Homeless, the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project, the Refugee Assistance Project, and the Veterans Assistance Project.
NY1, September 26, 2011
Chief Judge To Submit New Budget Proposal For Legal Civil Services
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman held an emotional hearing Monday on legal civil services for low income New Yorkers in anticipation of a new proposal he plans to send to Albany… Experts, lawyers and advocates argued the state should beef up funding for these programs. It would save money by ensuring New Yorkers don’t fall back on other services, like homeless shelters. “We’re not serving justice by turning people away. Yes, they fall back into the safety net and it costs our economy more,” said Samuel Seymour of the New York City Bar Association…Chief Judge Lippman plans to hold several more hearings throughout the state on the issue. He’ll then draft a budget proposal and submit it in Albany that, he says, will respond to the unmet need for civil legal services.