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Westchester dad among two NY men making strides to reform family court

The Scarsdale dad won a federal lawsuit in 2021 granting him ADA accommodations in family court, and in December was given the New York State Senate Commendation Award for his efforts to help other disabled parents receive basic accommodations during their custody cases.

Blaise Gomez

Jan 24, 2023, 9:45 PM

Updated 483 days ago

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Fathers Marc Fishman and James Kelly are turning their painful experiences in New York Family Court into triumph. 
“We are finally starting to see the courts starting to not only publicize that they offer help to those with hearing and memory impairments, but those with mobility and vision impairments,“ said Fishman. 
Fishman is hearing impaired and has a traumatic brain injury. 
He says his disabilities have made it difficult to advocate for himself without an attorney in family court or understand orders and as a result, hasn’t been able to see or talk to his children since 2019. 
The Scarsdale dad won a federal lawsuit in 2021 granting him ADA accommodations in family court, and in December was given the New York State Senate Commendation Award for his efforts to help other disabled parents receive basic accommodations during their custody cases. 
Long Island dad James Kelly runs the Facebook page, “Cameras in Court Now.” 
Kelly is helping litigants record their family court proceedings for transcript purposes, when public recording of any kind is typically not allowed – unlike criminal court.  
“The courts would love to stop me from doing this but they don’t have a valid ground to do so,” said Kelly.
Court representatives say family court policies protect the privacy of families and children, but reform advocates say the decades old system is outdated and causing problems for those with cases in it. 
A rep for the New York Office of Court Administration has not yet commented on efforts to reform family court, but says court reporters are present or proceedings are recorded for transcript purposes.  


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