As a former Dutchess County Family Court judge who presided in that court from 1999-2011, I am compelled to respond to an article that recently appeared on the front page of the Poughkeepsie Journal.
First of all, readers are led to believe that our local Family Court judges are not sufficiently trained to deal with domestic violence cases and are unprepared to render decisions that involve custody and visitation disputes. Nothing could be further from the truth. All four of our Family Court judges in Dutchess County have either practiced family law extensively or served as a law clerk to a Family Court judge prior to their election to the bench.
Secondly, the reporter fails to place the complaints that she highlights in her column in context. If she had done a minimal amount of research, her readers would have been informed that each Family Court judge in Dutchess County is assigned approximately 2500 new cases each year. Half of these involve custody and visitation petitions. That breaks down to 20-25 new custody cases each week! Instead, the reporter “cherry picks” 5 disgruntled litigants out of hundreds of cases filed to convey an unfair and distorted portrayal of how decisions are made on a daily basis in this court.
Finally, the reporter gives readers the false impression that most attorneys in Family Court do not represent their clients to the best of their ability. In my experience, the attorneys who practice primarily in Family Court are a dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard-working bunch.
In conclusion, this article did a great disservice to the men and women who labor in a very difficult environment trying to bring justice to the litigants and children who find themselves in this court. Our Family Court is one of the most respected in New York state.
Hon. Peter M. Forman (retired)
The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Mid Hudson News.