CITY LIMITS IN COURT

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A recent lawsuit ordered Family Court to open its doors to the press and public. In the February issue of City Limits, we found out what was inside.

Reporter Alyssa Katz–with an investigative team working for the Child Welfare Watch, our sister publication–discovered a system riddled with problems. Thanks to the city’s aggressive new prosecution strategy, the number of child neglect and abuse cases has climbed 55 percent over the last two years.

The city has adopted a policy that takes kids away from their parents first, and asks questions later. Families get caught up in a slow-moving system where judges have all the power and the responsibility for kids’ fates.

Our investigation revealed that Family Court hearings–which usually last between 5 and 15 minutes–often get canceled for lack of evidence. Court-appointed parents’ attorneys are so underpaid and overworked that they can hardly manage the caseload, and children’s attorneys carry twice as many cases as they should. And we analyze the impact of a sweeping new federal law that is supposed to speed up adoption proceedings.

Also in February’s issue: The city’s high-profile tenant ownership program celebrates a bittersweet 20th anniversary…two Dominican power brokers wage war over a building in Washington Heights-and the tenants still aren’t sure what’s going on…Hell-raising ACORN puts on a kinder-gentler face in a bid to branch out into social services…Pregnant immigrants are shunning prenatal care: What are they afraid of?