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Judge Lillian Wan gives Columbian Lawyers Association crash course on Family Court

March 9, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Lillian Wan, judge in the Kings County Family Court, was the guest speaker at this month's meeting of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn. Wan is pictured left with Linda LoCascio, president of the Columbian Lawyers. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Columbian Lawyers Association got a crash course in the how the Kings County Family Court operates by Judge Lillian Wan during its monthly meeting where she presented a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled “Child Protective Cases and Crossover Youth” in Dyker Heights on Tuesday.

“Thank you to the Columbian Lawyers for asking me to speak here tonight,” Judge Wan said. “Thank you [President Linda LoCascio], it really is an honor to be here to talk to you about what I do. My goal is for you all to leave here tonight with a better understanding on what goes on in Family Court.”

Wan, who graduated from Albany Law School, was appointed to the bench by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2012. Prior to that, she served as a court-attorney referee where she handled adoptions, guardianship and trusts, and estate matters. She also served for nine years as an Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) trial attorney where she tried and supervised abuse and neglect cases.

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As a judge in the Family Court, she presides over cases involving child abuse, neglect, family offense cases, juvenile delinquency, child support, paternity, custody, visitation and adoption. All trials are bench trials, there is no jury.

“There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what goes on in Family Court and how a child-abuse case originates in Family Court. I’m going to walk you through that process,” Wan said.

In her materials for the lecture, she included a sample intake form and walked the roughly 100 attorneys and judges in attendance through the process of how cases end up in front of her.

“A mandated reporter calls in a report suspecting abuse or neglect. That can be a doctor, a teacher, a social worker, a nurse. Assistant district attorneys are also mandatory reporters under the social services law,” she said. “A case comes in, it gets investigated, the case worker will then make a home visit and talk to the kids involved with the report, and then ACS will convene a child safety conference to determine if removal should be sought or if court intervention is needed.”

Wan also discussed the Crossover Youth Part, which puts kids who are known to both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system in front of one judge who will deal with the consequences of both issues.

“The cases will be on at the same time for purposes of information sharing so that as a jurist I don’t have to operate in a void with each case proceeding on separate tracks,” she said. “The hope is that the two systems will coordinate so there are no gaps or duplication in services for the children.”

Young Lawyers Night

The Columbian Lawyers Association’s next meeting will take place on April 3 with guest speakers Janet McFarland and Betsey Jean-Jacques, who will speak on “The Ins and Outs of Mental Hygiene: Hospitalization to Civil Commitment.”

That night will also be the inaugural Young Lawyers Night, where guests are encouraged to bring young attorneys and new members to the meeting.

“This is the event that we’d really appreciate if each person in this room can invite, encourage to attend and sponsor a young lawyer to come to this meeting,” said President Linda LoCascio.

“We want them so see what this is all about and share in the comradery of the association.

This can be an intern in your office, a law school student [or] a family friend.”


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