NYSBA Pushes for Bail Reform



Image: NYSBA.org

An accomplished attorney with more than three decades of experience, Gordon Burrows focuses on matrimonial and family law in his work with clients at his White Plains, New York, practice. Active in his profession, Gordon Burrows belongs to several legal organizations, including the New York State Bar Association.

In early January 2018, the NYSBA’s House of Delegates approved a resolution backing a plan to phase out cash bail for people charged with misdemeanors or non-violent felonies. Even though the state’s Criminal Procedure Law allows for ways other than a secured cash bail to ensure a defendant shows up for future court appearances, most courts throughout the state still rely on cash bail or secured bonds.

According to the NYSBA, as much as 60 percent of the jail population in the state consists of defendants still waiting for trial. Many of them are unable to afford cash bail, and so they sit behind bars, unable to work and apart from their loved ones while waiting for their day in court. The resolution calls for less stringent supervised release guidelines and cash bail imposed only on violent defendants.


ABA Examines History of Child Custody Laws


Gordon Burrows

An accomplished attorney with more than three decades of experience in family law, Gordon Burrows serves clients out of his private practice in White Plains, New York, where he focuses on child support, custody, and divorce cases. Over the years, Gordon Burrows has maintained membership with the American Bar Association, which offers its own insight about how custody is determined in divorce cases and how that determination has changed over the years.

Child custody law has evolved markedly over the past century and a half. For example, in the early 19th century, children were thought of as property rather than individuals who could think and choose for themselves. And because property rights typically favored men, fathers were almost always awarded custody in divorce cases.

That trend changed in 1850, however, when a new policy called the Tender Years Doctrine began governing custody cases in American courts. In accordance with this doctrine, preference for custody switched to the mother, as she was viewed, at least in the eyes of the court, as the most appropriate caregiver for young, developing children. Only in extreme cases where the mother was clearly unfit (e.g., those involving mental illness, drug abuse, child abuse, etc.) would the mother not be granted custody.

In modern times, the idea of preferring one parent over another has mostly gone by the wayside. In New York, as well as other states, courts are guided by the “best interest of the child” when determining which parent should be awarded custody. Factors that go into the “best interest” determination include which parent has been the primary caregiver thus far in the child’s life, work schedules, and the mental and physical fitness of each parent.