New York State Bar Association’s Howard A. Levine Award Presented to Two Longstanding Juvenile Justice Advocates
Two outstanding advocates for children and their families were honored Tuesday evening with the Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.
Professor Martin Guggenheim, who has taught for 50 years at the New York University School of Law, and Michele A. Brown, the former chief attorney at the Children’s Legal Center in Buffalo, were recognized by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law at the Bar Center in Albany.
Richard Lewis, president of the association, recognized the award’s namesake, retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, who was in attendance along with several Court of Appeals judges including Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson.
“We’ve been honoring people involved with Family Court since 1987. Judge Levine was the first chair of what was called the Special Committee on Juvenile Justice, and he continues to be a staunch proponent to improve New York’s juvenile justice system,” said Lewis.
He also spoke of the honorees’ dedication to helping children throughout the state.
“Marty Guggenheim and Michele Brown have both done longstanding and selfless work on the behalf of children. What can be more important than to work on behalf of children after all the horrible images that we saw last week, and the way children were treated in Israel,” Lewis said.
(L-R): Lorraine R. Silverman, chair of the NYSBA Committee on Children and the Law, Professor Melissa L. Breger, member of the NYSBA Committee on Children and the Law, Professor Martin Guggenheim and the Hon. Howard A. Levine. (Photo by Marty Kerins)
Guggenheim is among the nation’s foremost experts on children’s rights and family law. He has published six books and more than 50 articles and book chapters.
“Marty has been a mentor to so many people. He is truly beloved, he’s a giant and he’s a hero. When Marty’s retirement was announced, folks from all over the nation raved about him and talked about his influence upon their education, upon their careers and upon their calling. He has relentlessly fought for the rights of children, families, parents, and juvenile justice litigants in a variety of ways throughout the last half century,” said Professor Melissa L. Breger, a member of the association’s Committee on Children and the Law, during her introductory remarks.
Guggenheim founded the Family Defense Clinic at NYU in 1990. It was the country’s first clinic to train law students in how to represent parents at risk of losing their children to the state’s custody. The clinic introduced an interdisciplinary legal defense approach in which lawyers, social workers and advocates work closely with parents in and out of court to help ensure that children can remain in their family’s care.
Brown was the chief attorney at the Children’s Legal Center in Buffalo, and she continues to practice as an Attorney for Children. She is a longtime member of the Fourth Department Attorneys for Children Advisory Committee and a frequent lecturer for the Third and Fourth departments’ Attorneys for Children programs.
(L-R): Linda J. Kostin, member of the NYSBA Committee on Children and the Law, Michele A. Brown, Lorraine R. Silverman, chair of the NYSBA Committee on Children and the Law, and the Hon. Howard A. Levine. (Photo by Marty Kerins)
“I really believe children should be empowered, I think their voices should be heard, I think we need to make clear to them they have a voice that matters, and we need to provide structure and boundaries that will allow them to grow into wonderful human beings,” said Brown during her acceptance speech.
She was recently presented with the inaugural lifetime achievement award by the Fourth Department’s Attorneys for Children in recognition of her exemplary advocacy on behalf of children and her dedication to mentoring the next generation of attorneys for children.
Brown, an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, was previously a solo practitioner and panel attorney for children. Her practice focused on the representation of children in custody along with visitation, abuse and neglect cases.
Please go HERE to view the ceremony.