Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson Receives the Robert L. Haig Award

By David Alexander

May 4, 2023

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson Receives the Robert L. Haig Award


By David Alexander

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Edwina Richardson-Mendelson was presented with the Robert L. Haig Award by the New York State Bar Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section on Saturday.

She was honored during the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section and Dispute Resolution Section Joint Spring Meeting in Philadelphia. Justice Troy Webber, Appellate Division, First Department, presented Richardson-Mendelson with the award.

“Judge Richardson-Mendelson has dedicated her life to advocating for equal justice for all New Yorkers. 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,” said Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association.

Judge Richardson-Mendelson was appointed to direct the New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives in 2017. The office is responsible for securing justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal and family courts regardless of their situation. The office administers pro bono attorney and other volunteer programs to fulfill its mission designed to serve underrepresented court users.

“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. Her passion is evident by her relentless desire to ensure that everyone who walks through a court room door has the same access to justice as the next person and all those who may follow,” said Ignatius Grande, chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section.

Edwina Richardson-Mendelson (right) Justice Troy WebberJudge Richardson-Mendelson leads the Equal Justice in Courts Initiative to implement the recommendations of Jeh Johnson, special advisor on equal justice, that are described in his October 2020 report examining racial bias in the state court system, and to carry out the November 2020 court-based recommendations of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts to enhance gender fairness in the New York State Courts.

Justice Troy Webber, Appellate Division, First Department, presented Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson (right) with the Robert L. Haig Award.

In January 2021, Judge Richardson-Mendelson began overseeing the Unified Court System’s Office of Policy & Planning, which is responsible for administering the state’s more than 300 problem-solving and accountability courts. Each model has the advantage of specially trained judges and staff, dedicated dockets, intensive judicial monitoring and coordination with outside services and agencies.

Judge Richardson-Mendelson first joined the court system as a court attorney-referee in Queens County Family Court, after representing clients in New York City Housing Court, Family Court and Supreme Court. She became a family court judge in 2003, the Queens County supervising family court judge in 2008, and was elevated to administrative judge of all New York City Family Courts a year later.

The award is named after its initial recipient and distinguished commercial litigator who is a former member of the New York State Bar Association’s Executive Committee. It has been presented annually since 1995 to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service.

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