Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Deputy Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 7, 2009

Hon. Ann Pfau
Chief Administrative Judge

Seal of the Unified Court System

New Family Court Administrative Appointments Announced

NEW YORK – Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau announced several key appointments today in connection with their ongoing efforts to enhance and modernize New York’s Family Court. 

Hon. Sharon Townsend has been appointed Vice Dean for Family and Matrimonial Law of the New York State Judicial Institute. This new position will provide advice, mentoring and support throughout the state to judges handling Family Court and matrimonial cases as well as coordinate judicial training for those judges. As part of her new duties, Judge Townsend will be assuming the support functions that had been provided to judges by the former Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Matrimonial Matters, and will chair the court system’s Matrimonial Advisory Committee.     

Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson has been appointed Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court. She will be taking on this critical assignment at a time of record filings and increased burdens on that court, which handles some of the most difficult and problematic cases in the state court system. Judge Judy Harris Kluger, the court system’s Chief of Policy and Planning, who has filled in as the interim Administrative Judge for the New York City Family Court since the beginning of the year, will continue to play a key role in strengthening the Family Court.  

Judge Pfau said, “This new administrative team will go a long way toward bolstering the Family Court, helping to improve the delivery of justice services to New York’s families.  In addition to the need to provide more judges and greater resources for Family Court, effective administrative leadership is a critical component of our overall program for improving the justice experience of families with litigation in the New York courts.  Chief Judge Lippman and I are fortunate that we will now have the participation of these outstanding judges as we move forward with this critically important endeavor.”    

“Justice Townsend brings to her new role an impressive record of achievement in the family and matrimonial areas. New York’s family and matrimonial judges will now have the opportunity to benefit from her expertise and experience. Judge Richardson-Mendelson’s experience working with children and families goes back nearly two decades. Her insight and compassion on these issues make her the ideal candidate to lead the New York City Family Court in the coming years,” said Judge Pfau. Judge Pfau added, “I extend my gratitude to Judge Kluger for her able service as the interim Administrative Judge for New York City Family Court, and for her continuing role as part of our Family Court team.”

In addition to these new appointments, Hon. Hope Schwartz Zimmerman has been appointed Supervising Judge of the Nassau Family Court.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut Law School, Justice Townsend worked in a variety of capacities in the Buffalo legal community, including as counsel to the Erie County Department of Social Services and in private practice as a matrimonial attorney. After serving as a Village Justice for seven years, she was elected to the Erie County Family Court in 1991. In 1996, she was named Supervising Judge for Family Courts in the Eighth Judicial District, and since 2002 has served as the Administrative Judge for that district. Among her many affiliations, Justice Townsend sits on the Board of Trustees and served as a model court lead judge for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In addition to her new assignment, she will continue to sit in Erie County Supreme Court.

Judge Richardson-Mendelson was appointed to the New York City Family Court in 2003, and has been the Supervising Judge of Queens Family Court since 2008. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she was a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens Family Court, practiced law for 10 years in Family Court and served as a staff attorney with the Sanctuary for Families Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services. She is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law.

Following graduation from Hofstra Law School, Judge Zimmerman practiced in the areas of family and matrimonial law and then served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Elaine Jackson Stack. She was elected to Nassau County Family Court in 2005 and was subsequently appointed as an Acting Supreme Court Justice. She is a member of a number of bar and court system committees, and is the recipient of the Rona Seider Award from the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association.

The appointments take effect immediately.



Web page updated: May 7, 2009