Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge
Office for Justice Initiatives
In 2017, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Mendelson was appointed to head the newly expanded 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 litigants, including resources to assist the unrepresented in navigating virtual court operations ushered in by the Covid-19 crisis.
Additionally, Judge Mendelson directs several juvenile and family justice initiatives, including the Office of Court Administration’s Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, the ongoing implementation of the seminal law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State, and the Child Support Working Group of the New York State Bar Association COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.
Judge Mendelson remains active on the bench, conducting pro se trials in correctional facilities in her capacity as a Court of Claims judge. She was appointed to the Court of Claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2017. Judge Mendelson also serves in Supreme Criminal Term, NY County. Previously, she presided over the Youth Part in New York County Supreme Court, hearing cases of youth charged as adults.
After representing clients in New York City Housing Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court, Judge Mendelson joined the court system as a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens County Family Court. She later became a Family Court Judge in 2003, 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 several bar association and court committees advancing criminal justice, family and juvenile justice, as well as the delivery and quality of justice services.