New York County Lawyers’ Association



CONTACT: Anita Aboulafia 212-267-6646, ext. 225





FEBRUARY 5, 2007 – NEW YORK, NY – The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) announced the creation of a Facilities Task Force that will review the Office of Court Administration’s (OCA) [February 1 or whatever date the report comes out] report, released by Hon. Ann T. Pfau, First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, on ways to update courthouse facilities in lower Manhattan.


In appointing the Task Force, NYCLA President Edwin David Robertson announced, “NYCLA welcomes Judge Pfau’s initiative to establish a road map for revitalizing the court facilities of New York County. We look forward to collaborating with the bench as the master plan is developed. Some facilities are antiquated and others are inadequate. All judges, lawyers and litigants in New York deserve nothing less than the best facilities possible. Our task force includes a cross section of lawyers who practice in all the city’s courts. That diversity is vital to drawing the best blueprint for a modern infrastructure that can comfortably expand and adapt to the demands of our new millennium.”


Carol A. Sigmond, a member of NYCLA’s Supreme Court Committee; Vincent Rivellese, Co- Chair of NYCLA’s Criminal Justice Section, and Robert Silversmith, Co-Chair of NYCLA’s Civil Court Practice Section, serve as co-chairs of this newly created Task Force. They invited members of their respective committees and sections to join the Task Force in an effort to obtain diverse viewpoints on how the courthouse facilities can best be improved.


Major capital improvements have already taken place or are in the works in courthouses in the other boroughs – new courthouses in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens were recently completed and several other courthouses in those boroughs have undergone extensive renovations. In Staten Island, construction of a new courthouse to accommodate the Supreme Court, Civil Court and Surrogate’s Court is scheduled to begin shortly.


Profiles of Co-Chairs of the Facilities Task Force

Mr. Rivellese is an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a member of the New York State Office of Court Administration’s Committee on Criminal Jury instructions.


Ms. Sigmond is a partner at Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller, LLP and a member of her firm’s litigation and arbitration and real estate and construction practice groups. She concentrates on construction industry matters and has extensive experience in litigation of construction disputes for public works and buildings in both the public and private sectors.


Mr. Silversmith is a partner at Silversmith & Veraja, LLP, a law firm that provides legal services in commercial and residential real estate litigation, real estate transactions and personal injury litigation.


The Manhattan courthouses are in dire need of renovations,” acknowledged Ms. Sigmond, Task Force Co-Chair. She continued, “Among the obvious problems are insufficient wiring, lack of air conditioning (in Surrogate’s Court’s courtrooms), poor lighting and frequent elevator breakdowns.” According to Mr. Silversmith, Task Force Co-Chair, “Repair is only one of the needed responses. Our present facilities are a patchwork answer to the demands of the last century, but the needs of the future must be taken into account. Consequently, many proposals will be rethought with the future in mind.”


Mr. Rivellese, Task Force Co-Chair, added, “As our facilities are upgraded, there will be a number of ‘temporary moves’ and adjustments that need to be carefully planned during the transition parts of the master plan’s execution. We look forward to participating in the determination of how those pieces of the logistical puzzle will be assembled.”


The New York County Lawyers’ Association ( was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity, Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far- reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.


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