AWARDS OF DISTINCTION BREAKFAST

Each year the Weinberg Center recognizes the contributions of two extraordinary individuals dedicated to change and justice.

HONOREES

Marilyn B. Chinitz, Esq.

Partner, Matrimonial & Family Law Group
Blank Rome LLP

CHAMPION FOR CHANGE

Marilyn Chinitz is a formidable advocate for her clients, guiding them through some of the most challenging transitions in their lives. She concentrates her practice in matrimonial law, particularly high-net-worth divorce actions. Marilyn is a skillful negotiator whose numerous high-profile and celebrity cases have received national and international attention. She has more than 35 years of experience in every facet of family law, including:

  • Complex divorce actions involving diverse transactional matters
  • High-conflict custody cases
  • International custody cases including the return of abducted children in proceedings filed under the Hague Convention
  • Premarital agreements and postnuptial agreements
  • Same-sex divorce/dissolution matters
  • Paternity cases

Known for her straightforward, creative, and responsive approach to representing her clients, Marilyn is as successful in litigation as in settlement negotiations. She has argued winning appeals in the appellate courts of New York, and in trials before the family court and the supreme courts of New York.

When high-profile marital matters or recent changes in the law make headlines, Marilyn is a sought-after commentator. She is often quoted in print, and has appeared on local and national television and radio shows including:

  • NBC’s The Today Show
  • ABC News 20/20
  • Inside Edition
  • HLN’s Headline News
  • Hollywood Heat

Outside the Firm

Marilyn is the proud mother of two accomplished adult children. She loves cycling, and participates in fundraising rides and organizes travel to international destinations.

Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson

Deputy Chief Administrative
Judge for Justice Initiatives

CHAMPION FOR JUSTICE

Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson In 2017, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Mendelson was appointed to head the newly expanded New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, tasked with ensuring meaningful access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal and family courts, regardless of income, background, or special needs. To serve this mission, the Office for Justice Initiatives administers pro bono attorney and other volunteer programs, self-help services, Help Centers, and many other resources designed to serve unrepresented court users, including resources to assist those navigating virtual court operations ushered in by the Covid-19 crisis.

Additionally, Judge Mendelson leads the Equal Justice in Courts Initiative, a top priority for New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, to implement the recommendations of Special Adviser on Equal Justice Jeh Johnson in his October 2020 report examining racial bias in the state court system.

Judge Mendelson also directs several juvenile and family justice initiatives, including the New York State Unified Court System’s Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, its Advisory Council on Child Fatalities, the ongoing implementation of the seminal law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State, and the Child Support and Guardianship Working Groups of the Unified Court System/New York State Bar Association’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. Additionally, as a member of Chief Judge DiFiore’s Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, Judge Mendelson serves on the Regulatory Innovation and Online Dispute Resolution Working Groups.

As of January 2021, Judge Mendelson now also oversees the Unified Court System’s Office of Policy & Planning, which is responsible for administering the state’s 343 problem-solving and accountability courts, including groundbreaking opioid courts, drug courts/judicial diversion parts, veterans’ treatment courts, mental health courts, human trafficking intervention courts, domestic violence courts, integrated domestic violence courts, young adult parts, juvenile treatment courts, community courts, and impaired driving courts. Each model has the advantage of specially trained judges and staff, dedicated dockets, intensive judicial monitoring, and coordination with outside services and agencies. In addition, the Office of Policy & Planning oversees special projects and other endeavors providing guidance and support to the court system.

Judge Mendelson was appointed to the Court of Claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2017 and remains active on the bench, conducting pro se trials in state correctional facilities. Judge Mendelson also serves in Supreme Court Criminal Term, New York County. Previously, she presided over New York County Supreme Court’s Youth Part, hearing cases of youth charged as adults.

Judge Mendelson first joined the court system as a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens County Family Court, after representing clients in New York City Housing Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court. She later became a Family Court Judge in 2003, the Queens County Supervising Family Court Judge in 2008, and a year later, was elevated to Administrative Judge of all New York City Family Courts.

Judge Mendelson, a graduate of CUNY Law School whose motto is “Law in the Service of Human Needs”, also holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, and has been an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hofstra Law School. She maintains active membership and leadership positions in bar association and court committees advancing professional development and system improvement in the delivery and quality of justice services.