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More Impact Center Projects and Institutes
Center for Justice & Democracy
Faculty Director: Joanne Doroshow
The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D) is the only nonprofit consumer rights group in the nation that focuses exclusively on protecting plaintiffs’ access to the civil courts. Its mission is to raise public awareness about attacks on the civil justice system, the value of tort law, the importance of corporate liability and accountability, and the need for independent judges and juries, including the corrupting influence of money in judicial elections. CJ&D works with Congress and state legislatures around the nation, including in New York. The Center’s work includes legislative analysis for state and federal legislative committees, presentation of Congressional testimony, preparation of advocacy materials and policy papers, and all forms of media outreach. Issue areas include money and politics, the impact of “tort reform” on everyday Americans, product safety and environmental litigation, civil justice and human rights, employment and consumer class actions, health care and medical malpractice, federal regulations, and the full range of cutting-edge contemporary civil justice topics. CJ&D also works closely with members of the plaintiffs’ bar and their clients, whose rights may be at risk.
Criminal Justice Project
The Criminal Justice Project brings together defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and academics to discuss important issues in criminal practice. Successful criminal justice reform requires collaboration, which is particularly difficult in the political arena. The Criminal Justice Project offers a neutral arena, where those with different views can come together. Students and faculty develop events on topics such as bail reform, over-criminalization, racial injustice, and sentencing reform that help further the conversation. These discussions have practical implications that contribute to positive change in the criminal justice system. Issues facing New York City, including implementing the new bail, speedy trial, and discovery reforms, are a particular focus of the Criminal Justice Project.
Patient Safety Project
Faculty Directors: Steven Pegalis ’65 and Dr. Irwin R. Merkatz
The Patient Safety Project will develop and maintain an electronic database of redacted medical malpractice cases recently resolved in the New York State Unified Court System. The Project is intended to promote patient safety in medical care by serving as a valuable teaching resource and starting an open dialogue among medical care providers, risk managers, physicians, medical students, insurance providers, and lawyers. This database is the first of its kind, with the state’s Office of Court Administration granting special permission for its creation. Project administrators and students will work with the courts to collect the voluntary and anonymous versions of the undisputed facts as confirmed by the presiding judge. The data is not intended for use in future litigation or for purposes of impeachment. The Patient Safety Project is co-directed by Steven Pegalis ’65, a medical liability trial attorney, a member of NYLS’s Board of Trustees, and an Adjunct Professor at NYLS and Dr. Merkatz, Emeritus Professor and Former Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Merkatz has been named a Senior Fellow in Health Law by NYLS. An esteemed group of advisors for the project have also been assembled and include individuals from national health organizations, hospitals, and medical liability insurance companies, each of whom has a special interest in and expertise with regard to patient safety. With input and advice from the advisory group, the Project’s safety mission promises to be a productive additional part of existing safety processes.
South Africa and the Rule of Law
Faculty Director: Penelope Andrews
The South Africa and the Rule of Law Project focuses on the achievements of constitutional law in South Africa and the challenges that South Africa faces in building a rule of constitutional law that will endure into the future. The achievements are many—beginning, crucially, with the end of apartheid. South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution secures not only the rights enjoyed by Americans but others that U.S. constitutional law rarely considers, including guarantees of access to food, water, health care, and social security. But challenges persist: Corruption eats at the fabric of South African democracy, and bitter power struggles may jeopardize the country’s guarantees of political liberties. This Project engages NYLS students in South Africa’s ongoing development of constitutional law because South African constitutionalism is important in itself and because, in the end, the issues South Africa faces turn out to have many echoes here in the United States as well.