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Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association sits down with Chief Administrative Judge Marks for Lunch with a Judge

December 15, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pictured from left: Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. Theresa Ciccotto, Meryl Schwartz, Hon. Connie Mallafre Melendez, Hon. Genine Edwards, Hon. Lawrence Knipel, Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, BWBA President Michele Mirman, Helene Blank, Hon. Lilian Wan and Hon. Sharon Clarke. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Members of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association recently got the opportunity to sit down with the state’s Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks during a recent Lunch with a Judge event at the Brooklyn Supreme Court.

Marks oversees the day-to-day administration of the courts system that includes a $2.5 million budget, 3,600 state and local judges and 15,000 non-judicial employees in more than 300 courts in the state.

“I know that Justice Marks has an incredible wealth of knowledge,” said Michele Mirman, president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association (BWBA). “He was a clerk for a federal judge, he worked in private practice as a litigation association, he was with the Legal Aid Society as a supervising attorney. He has the entire background — private, public and criminal work.”

The event on Dec. 5 took place in the 11th-floor boardroom of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Civil Term. Nearly 40 of Brooklyn’s judges and attorneys, all members of the BWBA, sat in with Marks for an hour. The judges talk about various topics, ranging from background about themselves to what is the latest developments happening in their courthouse, during Lunch with a Judge events.

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Marks discussed parts of his own career as well as Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s Excellence Initiative. After, he answered questions from the roughly 40 people in attendance.

“Our No. 1 top priority, which the chief judge announced in her first day in office, is the Excellence Initiative,” said Marks. “It’s such a broad nomenclature that can include everything and will certainly evolve over time. The focus on the Excellence Initiative has been on making the court system more efficient and to provide the highest quality service we can to the public.”

Marks admitted that Brooklyn, being the largest court system in the state, often offers its own set of issues that other counties, including other counties in New York City, don’t have to deal with. Still, he pointed out, Brooklyn has seen massive improvements under the Excellence Initiative.

“I want to congratulate Judge Lawrence Knipel, the other judges in this court, the court staff and the practitioners,” Marks said. “Over the last two years now there has been tremendous progress in this court. There have been changes that have yielded positive results.

“The number of cases over standards and goals has gone down about 35 percent over the last 18 months or so,” Marks continued. “There is a lot more work to do, we’re not declaring victory yet, but that’s tremendous progress.”

Marks then spoke about how he and DiFiore thought that the court system missed out on an opportunity to make positive changes through the state constitutional convention, that was voted down in the most recent election.

“Obviously the voting public was wary of it, but we thought it was an opportunity to address structural problems,” Marks said.

DiFiore had even created a task force to come up with recommended guidelines if a state constitutional convention had passed. She has now changed that task force to one that will recommend changes to the state Legislature.

“What we’re trying to do with the Excellence Initiative is in a lot of ways hampered by these archaic rules that we would have had the opportunity to change, but now we have to turn to the Legislature.”


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