January 20, 2010
CUNY Law Professor Maria Arias has been appointed to the Family Court. Judge Arias, who has in-depth expertise in issues affecting families and battered women, will preside in Queens County court over custody, visitation and orders of protection cases.
“Professor, and now Judge, Arias brings tremendous expertise to her new position. Her talent, legal acumen and deep knowledge of family law will bring tremendous value and worth to the Court,” said CUNY Law Dean Michelle J. Anderson. “We are proud of her accomplishment and will miss her presence at the Law School,” she added.
Judge Arias joined CUNY Law almost twenty years ago as a faculty member. During her time at the Law School, she co-founded and co-taught the Battered Women’s Rights Clinic (BWRC). “Judge Arias will bring to the court her strong commitments to the dignity and voice of indigent women in New York City and to the development of young attorneys,” said CUNY Law’s Clinic Director Sameer Ashar. “Her expertise, particularly as it relates to issues affecting immigrants and women of color, shaped the work of our students for almost two decades and for that we are deeply grateful.”
CUNY Law Professor Sue Bryant, with whom Judge Arias co-founded the BWRC, added, “Literally thousand of women and children are in safer homes today as a result of Maria’s work training advocates and representing clients. Maria saw the humanity in everyone she interacted with including her adversaries and their clients. I am sure she will put her deep understanding of families and compassion for their struggles to use as she assumes her judgeship in the Family Court.”
Director of CUNY Law’s Criminal Defense Clinic, Steve Zeidman, who also serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, comments that, “The Family Court became a better place the very second that Maria Arias was appointed to the Court. Her limitless reservoir of compassion, her ever-present sense of empathy, and her overarching concerns for fairness make her uniquely qualified to be a judge.”
Judge Arias is a member of the Queens Working Group of the Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence. She has also received numerous awards for her work on behalf of battered women, most recently The Haywood Burns and Shanara Gilbert Award from the Northeast People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference. Among other articles, Judge Arias co-wrote Case Study: A Battered Women’s Rights Clinic, Designing A Clinical Program Which Encourages A Problem Solving Vision Of Lawyering, 42 Wash. U. J. Urb. & Contemp. L. 207 (1992).
In addition to traditional lawyering and academics, Judge Arias is distinguished by her commitment to forging an innovative approach to pedagogy and to community advocacy. In her work, she advocated for holistic community development strategies to counter domestic violence that combined education, prevention and alternatives to criminalization. While at CUNY Law, she was centrally involved in the Law School’s Contemplative Lawyering Program, which teaches students stress management tools, such as meditation and yoga. CUNY Law Professor Victor Goode, who worked closely with Judge Arias in the Contemplative Lawyering Program said, “”Maria has been a wonderful friend and colleague. Co-teaching with her has truly been a great learning experience for me and I look forward to Judge Arias bringing her ‘contemplative lawyering’ skills from the clinic and classroom into the Queens Family Court. I’m sure that the compassion that she brings to her work will make the usually difficult experience of being in court better for all who are involved.”
Judge Arias received her J.D. from New York University where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar. Upon graduation, she joined the Community Law Offices in East Harlem, where she represented low-income tenants in housing court. Subsequently, she worked for the Council of New York Law Associates (now the NY Lawyers Alliance) where she represented tenant groups involved in the conversion of abandoned housing tenements into low-income housing cooperatives.
Contact: Vivian Todini, Director of Communications, 718-340-4530
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