Governor Cuomo Seeks to Remove Firearms from Perpetrators

Governor Cuomo Seeks to Remove Firearms from Perpetrators

Last month, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the first proposal of the 2018 State of the State: remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all domestic violence crime convictions, including misdemeanors, to result in the immediate removal of all fire arms and will add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies.

The Governor’s proposal seeks to close loop holes that currently exist in our state laws, including prohibiting the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of any domestic violence offense.  Currently NY law only prohibits possession of firearms of those convicted of felonies or “serious offenses.”  This excludes certain misdemeanor offenses like strangulation and assault and battery.  Cuomo’s proposed legislation will include all domestic violence misdemeanors.

The Governor is also looking to close the loophole that currently exists with the surrender of firearms when an order of protection is issued.  Currently, New York State requires surrender of hand guns for either (1) an order of protection issued by a judge or (2) a firearm license suspension/revocation due to a felony or “serious” offense conviction or a mental health disqualification by a health professional.  However, this surrender does not always apply to long guns, such as rifles and shotguns.  To correct this loophole, Governor Cuomo will be proposing legislation to apply the same surrender procedures to long guns.

Lastly, the Governor is looking to mandate the surrender of firearms when an order of protection is issued.  Currently, judges issue orders of protection in domestic violence cases after an individual is arrested, but before they are convicted.  These orders result in the suspension of firearm licenses.  However, these orders are issued at the judges’ discretion and may not be occur in every domestic violence case.  To ensure consistency, the State proposes legislation requiring that all judges mandate the surrender of all firearms – hand guns and long guns – and suspend any firearm license until the case is resolved.

Our Executive Director, Mary Murphy, was asked about this proposed legislation back in December by Spectrum News.  Hear Mary’s comments as well as learn more about the Governor’s proposal by watching the video on Spectrum News here.

M&T Bank Gives the FJC a New Look

M&T Bank Gives the FJC a New Look

M&T Bank has been a long-time friend and supporter of the Family Justice Center, sponsoring events, supporting our satellite initiatives, and helping us maintain our vital services.  In addition to all their past support, just a few months ago M&T helped give the Center a fresh look by donating desk, chairs, board room tables, storage units and more from their M&T Corporate Reuse Center.

Karen Reinlander, Space Planner for M&T’s Corporate Services, donated her time and talent and truly turned the Family Justice Center’s administrative area into impressive, professional office space that would rival any Fortune 500 company.  Karen spent many hours reviewing with staff the needs of the agency and finding the right furniture in M&T’s stock to meet those needs.  She also coordinated the delivery of all the new furniture as well as the removal of the old.

Karen Reinlander was truly an angel.  She was determined to give the agency the professional environment she felt it deserved and she absolutely delivered.  Thank you Karen and thank you to all of our friends at M&T Bank who do so much to help domestic violence victims in our community.

Garman Family Foundation Funds New Partnership

Garman Family Foundation Funds New Partnership

The Buffalo-based Garman Family Foundation recently awarded the Family Justice Center a $25,000 grant to further develop the partnership between the Center and the UB School of Law’s Women’s Rights & Family Violence Clinic, which provides comprehensive services to clients, mostly women, experiencing intimate partner violence.

In the Domestic Violence High Risk Collaboration, says clinic director Judith Olin ’85, students will work directly with Family Justice Center clients who are identified as being at the highest risk for serious, even lethal, violence. “We will address legal issues that may be stopping them from leaving the situation,” says Olin, including issues involving housing, employment, child support, divorce and child custody. Under her supervision, clinic students will represent clients in court on some issues and refer them to other legal services providers on others.

This new effort will enable students to serve clients in immediate danger, Olin says, and teach them how to ensure the client’s safety. Studies have shown that victims of family violence are at highest risk when they decide to leave their home situation. Advocates work with them on a safety plan, for example counseling them to find protective shelter before filing a legal case. “We need to be very careful in terms of respecting the client’s safety and making sure that our representation doesn’t expose the client to any more risk,” Olin says.

Students will meet with clients in the Family Justice Center’s Main Street facility, focusing on those who cannot afford a private attorney but earn too much to qualify for other free legal services. The grant money will also fund a student summer fellowship to carry on the work between academic years.

“The relationship we have with the clinic is critical to what we do,” says Tiffany Pavone ’02, director of operations at the Family Justice Center. “The students will fill an important gap in representing domestic violence victims who are at the highest

Be a Part of #NYGivesDay today

Be a Part of #NYGivesDay today

Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of New York State’s day of giving – an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

We need your help today! Please join our campaign and help us reach of our goal of $2,500!  We need you to tell your friends and family members about the important work we do and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.

You can visit our personal #NYGivesDay page at https://www.nygivesday.org/organizations/family-justice-center-of-erie-county  and make a donation to us and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in our state. You will have 24 hours to make your donation, and all giving will end at 11:59 PM tonight.

Thank you in advance for your generosity to our organization!

Mosaic 2017

Mosaic 2017

Thank you to all our sponsors and everyone who came out to support the Family Justice Center’s 2017 MOSAIC event!  The evening was an incredible success and filled with good times, laughter, and yes, even a Wine Roulette Wheel!

Over 300 people gathered at Lakeward Spirits on Vandalia Street to share in the Buffa-love and help raise money to maintain the valuable services provided at the Center.  Attendees at the event were treated to house-made cocktails from the distillery, well-known and cherished local cuisine from Buffalo’s Best Grill & Catering, Gourm-Asian Bistro, Ilio DiPaolo’s, Kabab & Curry, Andersons, Watsons, and more, all while being delighted by the music of legendary organist for the Sabres, Ken Kaufman.

The evening was also a time to acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond for in their efforts to assist domestic violence victims and raise awareness on the issue.  Every year the Buffalo News presents the Founder’s Award is presented to someone who has demonstrated innovation in the creation and delivery of services to victims of domestic violence and their families and/or who have demonstrated innovation in the creation and delivery of education/outreach programs on this issue.

This year the award was presented to Deborah Jaeger, a long-time volunteer and supporter of the Family Justice Center and a self-identified survivor of domestic violence.  While Deb herself was never in an abusive relationship, she unfortunately lost her sister to domestic violence.  Since her sister’s death, Deb has been a staunch advocate for victims and has worked tirelessly to help other victims.  Through her efforts “Jilly’s Law” – named after her sister – was passed as a part of the Governor’s recent domestic violence legislation, which allows judges to consider the violent nature of the crime an offender is charged with as well as the safety of the victim and the community in setting bail.  In addition, Debbie not only attends every morning tour given at the Family Justice Center to share her sister’s story, but volunteers as a community ambassador and is now in the process of creating “Jilly’s Room” at the Center, which will be a wellness room not only for clients, but for the staff and volunteers working at the Center as well.  Deb’s sister would be proud of the legacy she has created in her name and of all the victims she has helped to find safety.  All of us here at the Family Justice Center are proud and privileged to know her and to be able to call her our friend!

It was a memorable evening enjoyed by everyone who attended.  Many thanks to all of the attendees for supporting the event and to our wonderful sponsors who made the whole evening possible, including our Queen City Sponsors: M&T Bank & Wegmans; our Fillmore Level Sponsors: The Buffalo Bills, OSC Foundation, and Rich’s Products; our Fitzgerald Level Sponsors: Buffalo Sabres, Cohen & Lombardo, FARM, Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, Independent Health, Lawley, National Grid, Univera, and Valuecentric; our Delaware Park Sponsors: Catholic Health System, Dansa & D’arata, LLP, Hodgson Russ, Universal Woodworks and Woods Oviatt Gilman, LLP, and our Lafayette Square Level Sponsors: The Bonadio Group, Eddie Brady’s, Ellen Daly & Hunt Real Estate, Frey Electric, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Clarence, NY.

Crazy Socks Help Raise Awareness

Crazy Socks Help Raise Awareness

This past October, our friends at the Legal Department at M&T Bank participated in Domestic Violence Awareness Month by hosting a “Crazy Sock Day.”  The day was a fun way to bring attention to the very serious issue of domestic violence in our community.  By donating warm socks to the Family Justice Center, employees were permitted to adorn their own feet in the funniest, zaniest, and most creative socks they could find.  Judging by the pictures, the employees had a great time selecting their special socks and our clients benefited from their generosity!

If your company or business is looking for an imaginative and creative way to raise awareness and/or donate to the Family Justice Center, consider hosting your own crazy sock, hat, or even purse/tie day!  Raising awareness is key to helping us stop the violence.

Thank you again to our friends at the M&T Bank Legal Department.  Thank you for entertaining us with your adorable feet and for helping our clients keep theirs warm!

SAFETY EXIT (Quickly exit the site if in danger)