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Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson

Rochelle Klempner, Chief Counsel of NYS Court Access to Justice ProgramDeputy Chief Administrative Judge
Office for Justice Initiatives

Edwina G. Mendelson was appointed Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives in July 2017. Judge Mendelson heads the newly expanded Office for Justice Initiatives (OJI), which is tasked with ensuring meaningful access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal and family courts, regardless of income, background, or special needs.

Judge Mendelson is charged with directing several court initiatives including the Access to Justice Program. The Access to Justice Program employs a range of resources including Help Centers, volunteer attorney and other volunteer programs to carry out its mission to serve unrepresented litigants in all New York courts. Judge Mendelson and the Office for Justice Initiatives work closely on access to justice issues with the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, as well as with the Advisory Committee on Access for People with Disabilities, the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), the Division of Technology, the Forms Committees, the Grants Office, the Office of Language Access, and law schools.

Judge Mendelson provides leadership to many of the state judiciary’s child welfare, juvenile and adolescent justice initiatives, including implementation of the new law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State.

In addition to her administrative and policy work, Judge Mendelson remains active on the bench. She presides over the Youth Part in New York County Supreme Court, where she hears cases of children charged with violent felonies under the Juvenile Offender law, and felony matters of those 18 years of age or younger. She also frequently presides over criminal court arraignments in New York City.

Judge Mendelson was first appointed to the bench as a Judge to the Family Court in 2003. She served as a trial judge in Queens County Family Court until 2008, when she was appointed Supervising Judge of that Court. One year later, she was elevated to Administrative Judge of all New York City Family Courts. In October 2015, Judge Mendelson resumed the trial bench to preside over the Youth Part in New York County Supreme Court. In June 2017, Judge Mendelson was appointed to the Court of Claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo. She now serves by designation in the New York County Supreme Court Criminal Term.

Judge Mendelson joined the court system as a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens County Family Court. Earlier in her career, she represented parents and children in New York County Family Court and in matrimonial matters in Supreme Court. Judge Mendelson served as the very first staff attorney for the Sanctuary for Families Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services. She also served as an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, Bronx County Civil Division, where she represented indigent clients in Housing Court and in benefit entitlement proceedings.

Judge Mendelson holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, and has been an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hofstra Law School. She maintains membership and leadership positions in a number of bar associations and other committees involving family law and juvenile justice. She has formerly chaired both the New York City Bar Association’s Children and the Law Committee and the Attorney for the Child/Assigned Counsel Advisory Committee for the 2nd, 11th and 13th Judicial Districts. She recently co-chaired the Office of Court Administration’s Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court. Judge Mendelson frequently lectures on issues related to family law and juvenile justice.