Court attorney gives Bay Ridge Lawyers tips on winning in matrimonial matters
The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) got a lesson in matrimonial matters from the perspective of a court attorney during its monthly meeting on Third Avenue Wednesday night.
Marjorie R. Steinberg, the court attorney for Hon. Barbara I. Panepinto, Supreme Court, Richmond County, gave a continuing legal education (CLE) speech titled “Procedural Pitfalls in Matrimonial Matters that keep you from the Win: As told from a Court Attorney’s Perspective.”
“I’ve known the speaker for over 20 years,” said Rosa Pannitto, co-chair of the program committee. “I worked with her when she started in Brooklyn and I still work with her on a regular basis in Staten Island. She’s great at what she does and we’re happy to have her here to give us some tips.”
Prior to working with Panepinto, Steinberg was a staff attorney and deputy director at the Children’s Law Center where she represented children in custody, visitation, neglect, abuse and order of protection proceedings.
She’s also involved with the NYC Bar Association and serves on its Children and the Law Committee. She is also a member of the Richmond County Bar Association and the Staten Island Women’s Bar Association.
“I wanted to talk about procedure today because you have to understand that from where I sit that’s what I do all day,” Steinberg said. “If you are wrong on the law, we can fix that. If you are wrong on procedure, that knocks you out of the box automatically.”
Steinberg explained that when attorneys don’t get their way, they can often be argumentative because they don’t think the court understands their position. Steinberg explained that court attorneys are often well versed in the law and that there are often procedural reasons for their actions.
“As a court attorney, if it’s not illegal or immoral, I’m going to go with what the judge wants,” she said. “Arguing with me on the phone is not going to change anything — what’s going to change things is to put your applications in writing with the reasons for your application and that could have some sway.”
Steinberg also said that attorneys don’t need to cite every relevant law in the history of their case, but instead merely need to cite the most laws.
“You don’t have to give me a treatise on everything that has ever happened on a particular issue,” she said. “Don’t cite 100 cases. I have familiarity with your area of practice. Cite the most current cases in the Second Department.”
Steinberg explained why attorneys should use the court’s maintenance and support calculators because they’re more up to date than ones that can be found by doing a Google search. She also took time to explain the most recent changes in the law regarding how to start divorce proceedings.
Among other practical information Steinberg shared, perhaps some of the most valuable was the physical info. The printed materials she handed out included all forms needed for appearing in matrimonial courts including the often-elusive scheduling fees.
The Bay Ridge Lawyers meet again on April 25 at the Pearl Room in Bay Ridge when Administrative Judge Matthew D’Emic will present a CLE on bias. Then on May 30, County Clerk and Commissioner of Jurors Hon. Nancy Sunshine will present a CLE.
BRLA will be honored by the Boy Scouts of America during a ceremony that will be held at the Bay Ridge Manor on June 6.
On June 22, BRLA will host its annual dinner for outgoing president Margaret Stanton at Casa Belvedere in Staten Island.
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