Justice Edwina Richardson-Mendelson receives prestigious Robert L. Haig Award

May 9, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, was honored with the Robert L. Haig Award by the New York State Bar Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section on Saturday during the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section and Dispute Resolution Section Joint Spring Meeting in Philadelphia.

Judge Richardson-Mendelson was given the accolade for her lifelong commitment to advocating for equal justice for all New Yorkers. Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association, praised the judge for her involvement in numerous programs aimed at supporting youth and families in underserved communities.

“Judge Richardson-Mendelson has dedicated her life to advocating for equal justice for all New Yorkers,” Levin Wallach said. “She is a revered jurist and leader. She is active in a broad range of programs, many focusing on youth and families in underserved committees. She oversees New York State’s hundreds of problem-solving and accountability courts which provide a wide range of legal and social services to assist participants achieve success.”

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In 2017, Judge Richardson-Mendelson was appointed to direct the NYS Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, overseeing the administration of pro bono attorneys and other volunteer programs to serve underrepresented court users.

Ignatius Grande, chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, lauded her for her dedication to helping vulnerable individuals, including victims of domestic abuse and indigent clients in family court.

“Judge Richardson-Mendelson is a pioneer who has dedicated her legal career to helping those who are most in need, including victims of domestic abuse and indigent clients in family court,” Grande said. “Her passion is evident by her relentless desire to ensure that everyone who walks through a courtroom door has the same access to justice as the next person and all those who may follow.”

Attorney General Letitia James and NYSBA Treasurer Domenick Napoletano share a moment of camaraderie at the Robert L. Haig Award ceremony, celebrating the achievements of esteemed Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson.

Leading the Equal Justice in Courts Initiative, Judge Richardson-Mendelson is responsible for implementing the recommendations of Jeh Johnson, special advisor on equal justice, as well as the November 2020 court-based recommendations of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts to enhance gender fairness in the state’s courts.

Since January 2021, she has also overseen the Unified Court System’s Office of Policy & Planning, administering the state’s more than 300 problem-solving and accountability courts. These courts benefit from specially trained judges and staff, dedicated dockets, intensive judicial monitoring, and coordination with outside services and agencies.

Judge Richardson-Mendelson’s career in the court system began as a court attorney-referee in Queens County Family Court, following her representation of clients in New York City Housing Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court. She became a family court judge in 2003 in Queens County, became supervising family court judge in 2008, and administrative judge of all New York City Family Courts in 2009.

The Robert L. Haig Award, named after its first recipient and distinguished commercial litigator, has been presented annually since 1995 to long-standing members of the legal profession who have rendered distinguished public service.

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