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September President's message

Hon. Linda S. Jamieson


September's Song

Kurt Weill was a native German composer born in 1900, who later immigrated to America and became a noted composer for the Broadway stage. His best known effort was his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht in The Three Penny Opera, which included Mack the Knife, a song made popular by the late Bobby Darin.
I learned this about Mr. Weill while searching for the lyrics to “September Song”, which he wrote, the chorus of which goes:

But it’s a long, long while
From May to December
And the days grow short
When you reach September

My experience, and maybe yours, is that it is a really long, long while from November until May with seemingly longer days as we await a summer that just zips by. 
September’s brisk mornings, sunny days and cool evenings, coupled with a different slant of the sun, have always meant for me a new beginning, maybe even more than January 1st.

September’s crisp mornings bring the fresh start of the school year for children gathering at the bus stop for the first time in months, while older children pack up to head off to college, some for the first time.

September brings to an end one of the two short periods of relative calm in the Courthouse, the two periods being the last two weeks of August and the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In September, the halls of the Courthouse begin to hum again with the quickened steps of attorneys filing new pleadings, participating in Compliance Conferences and having their trial dates set.

This September will find the steps of the litigation process quickened as the final touches are being placed on the Presumptive Alternative Dispute Resolution (Presumptive ADR) process for Supreme Court matters.

New York’s Unified Court System has introduced a system wide initiative in which parties in most civil cases will be referred to mediation, or some other form of Presumptive ADR, as an early step in a case proceeding before the court.

“Making ADR services widely available in civil courts throughout the State—and facilitating the use of such services as early as possible in the case— are major steps toward a more efficient, affordable and meaningful civil justice process,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has said.

Under the leadership of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Administrative Judge Kathie Davidson, a mandatory mediation for litigated matters is already in place in the Surrogate’s Court in order to lessen the time and expense of the litigation process. That mediation is overseen through an organization known as CLUSTER, under the Westchester and Rockland Mediation Center’s auspices.

We judges learned about these plans during the 2019 Judicial Summer Seminars, and more will be learned by practitioners and judges alike as the fall months move on.

The core values of the Presumptive ADR process are that it is party centered, confidential and early in the life of the case; different from the current settlement conferences before a court attorney. Where this process is already in place, research has shown a high rate of settlement and a narrowing of the issues, even if settlement does not occur during the mediation process, coupled with a high rate of client satisfaction.

The mediation process also eases post-judgment motions as compared to cases in which mediation does not take place.

The mediation sessions will be scheduled for enough time and/or number of sessions so as to allow those involved to address a wide range of issues. Clients can participate directly with the assistance of counsel. While mediation can be utilized at any stage of the court process, it will now be introduced sooner, as the first step when a case proceeds to Court. This statewide initiative will build upon the success of our existing ADR programs that require, under Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge, a minimum of 40 hours training, as well as experience for those seeking to become mediators. However, when the new Presumptive ADR plan is implemented, there may be different training requirements. While Court sponsored ADR has been part of the Commercial Division for many years, the new Presumptive ADR plan will fine tune many of the current rules. Sitting in the Commercial Division, I have seen the real value of ADR. I wholeheartedly embrace the plan for Presumptive ADR. However, for the mediation program to be truly effective, it would not just be helpful, but essential, that more of our practiced and experienced attorneys submit to the training programs that will be established by the Court. The plans will include volunteer mediators approved by the court, judges, non-judicial staff, judicial hearing officers and community dispute resolution centers.

For more information about the training needed to become a mediator, please email mediationtraining@clusterinc.org and/or review the Part 146 Rules.

I will be coordinating with leaders in the CLE and ADR Committees to arrange for CLEs this fall to help us all achieve a better understanding of the Presumptive ADR process. (See page 24  in the September issue of the Westchester Lawyer magazine for the ADR Committee’s CLE titled “The 9th Judicial District Presumptive Mediation Programs: What you need to know.”)

Additionally, my Lunch with the Judges for September will be devoted to this topic. Our guest will be Hon. Joan B. Lefkowitz, Supreme Court Justice and Chairperson of the ADR Committee for Westchester General Civil Matters.

I hope that all our members will embrace these new programs which are meant to bring justice to each and all of your clients more quickly, more efficiently and less expensively.

Also, please mark your calendar for Meet the Judges at “Pace Law” to be held October 2nd at 5:30pm in the Tudor Room. This is always a wonderful event for the new law students to meet not only the Judges of the 9th Judicial District, but also our knowledgeable and distinguished members. Indeed, it is a terrific opportunity for our members to see old friends and new, meet new students, who are often overwhelmed and in need of sage advice, all while socializing with our judges. I hope to see you there!

My apologies to our golfers. I’m sorry we postponed our outing until September 23, but the heat index and flash flood warnings led us to believe that rescheduling would be better for all involved. I know the day will be lovely in September and look forward to a wonderful time. For those who don’t golf, the Whippoorwill Club offers a terrific dinner on the terrace. Please join us for cocktails and dinner with our members. 

How to Contact Me
As always, I can be reached at the WCBA offices, 914.761.3707, or by email President@wcbany.org with any concerns, suggestions and comments. Remember we are always looking to increase our membership! Please get involved in our committees and sections to get the most you can out of your membership. And remember, our new attorney membership provides two years of free CLE.