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Brooklyn judge and assistant DA explain new raise the age rules at Kings County Criminal Bar Association meeting

March 23, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Hon. Dineen Riviezzo, KCCBA President Michael Cibella and Colleen Babb, Brooklyn DA Bureau Chief, School Advocacy. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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New Raise the Age legislation goes into effect this fall where 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be tried as adults and will be diverted out of criminal courts and into family courts.

It’s a big change for kids, but it also means a lot of changes for attorneys handling these cases so the Kings County Criminal Bar Association (KCCBA) invited Justice Dineen Riviezzo and Assistant District Attorney Colleen Babb to present a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar on what they should expect during its most recent meeting in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday.

“Prior to implementation of this law, New York and North Carolina were the only two states in the U.S. that criminalized kids under the age of 18,” Babb said. “As much as we like to consider ourselves a progressive state, we were behind Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and all of those other states that we make fun of. Finally we realized that if we’re going to be progressive then we have to protect children.”

Riviezzo, an honoree at the annual KCCBA dinner next month, has been presiding over cases in the Supreme Court, Youth Part and has been overseeing the transition. She said that she asked Babb to be a part of the lecture because of her experience working with the committee that laid out the changes to the law.

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Riviezzo, who must step down from the Youth Part when the law goes into effect, called presiding over the part the highlight of her career.

“One of the key components of the legislation is that the youth part has to be presided over by a Family Court judge,” said Riviezzo. “That means that since I am a Court of Claims judge and I cannot be cross designated as a Family Court judge so as of Oct. 1 I will no longer be presiding over the youth part.

“I’m very sad about that because it has been a real honor and a pleasure to preside over this part for the last three or so years,” Riviezzo said.

The law goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2018 for 16-year-olds and Oct. 1, 2019 for 17-year-olds. Cases will still be arraigned in the Supreme Court, but they will be immediately assigned to Family Court unless the case involves significant physical injury, a weapon or criminal sexual conduct.

“The system is going to change, but they’re still going to start out in the criminal court world,” said KCCBA President Michael Cibella. “The Supreme Court will do arraignments, but this is set up so hopefully a lot of these defendants end up in Family Court.”

From left: Kelly Mill, Maris Schwartz, Families Rising; Michael Wheatley, Catie Boatwright, Charlotte Johnson, Janelle Robinson, Debralee Johnson, Monica Smith and KCCBA President Michael Cibella.

One of the biggest changes is that parents of the 16- and 17-year-olds who are arrested must now be notified. ADA Babbs said that previously, the DA’s Office had a problem where kids were arrested, never told their parents and then didn’t show up to court, which resulted in a warrant being issued for their arrest.

“Now a parent has to be notified and that child has to be released to a parent or legal guardian at the precinct, otherwise that kid is taken into ACS custody,” Babb said.

KCCBA also invited representatives from various Youth Diversion Programs from Brooklyn including CASES, Center for Community Alternatives, Esperanza, Families Rising and Friends of Island Academy. They were available to talk with attorneys on options those groups provide and to answer any questions.

KCCBA will honor Riviezzo along with Danielle Eaddy, Brooklyn DA Bureau Chief; Siobhan Shea-Gillespie, case management coordinator in Supreme Court; and Stuart Rubin, senior staff attorney for Brooklyn Defender Services. That event takes place on April 21 at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg.


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