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Domestic Violence 2018: Survivors as Defendants, Respondents, and Parole or Clemency Applicants

Author(s): Judy Harris Kluger, Charlotte A. Watson
Practice Area: Family Law
Published: Feb 2018
PLI Item #: 221886
CHB Spine #: 107

The Hon. Judy Harris Kluger assumed the role of Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families Inc. in January 2014. Sanctuary is New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.

Since becoming Executive Director, Judge Kluger has secured substantial new sources of private and public funding, growing the agency budget from approximately $15 million to over $24 million. Under Judge Kluger’s leadership, Sanctuary launched the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court Pro Bono Project to assist immigrant sex trafficking victims; oversaw the move of Sanctuary’s headquarters to a new and better location; produced a five-year report documenting the program model and achievements of Sanctuary’s innovative Economic Empowerment Program; and developed a five-year strategic plan. The strategic plan will guide Sanctuary in its efforts to expand high-need programming focused on advancing clients’ self-sufficiency, improve agency understanding of client needs and impact of services, build survivor leadership, and advance Sanctuary’s strategic leadership in the movement to end gender violence through sustained legislative advocacy and community outreach.

Sanctuary for Families provides survivors with a range of services including legal and clinical services (50 staff attorneys and 36 masters-level social workers), economic empowerment support, shelter, and programming for children and youth, all structured to help survivors rebuild their lives in the aftermath of abuse. Since Judge Kluger became Executive Director, Sanctuary added fifty new staff positions to the organization and, last year, served nearly 16,000 individuals. 97% of Sanctuary’s clients are NYC residents, the vast majority live in poverty, and 71% of adult clients are immigrants.

Prior to joining Sanctuary, Judge Kluger served for 25 years as a judge in New York State—most recently as Chief of Policy and Planning for the court system. In addition to her role in system-wide court reform, policy development, and implementation, Judge Kluger oversaw the statewide problem solving court program which included more than 300 Integrated Domestic Violence Courts, Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, Domestic Violence Courts, Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, Sex Offense Courts, and Community Courts.

Judge Kluger began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County. As a young lawyer working in Brooklyn in the late 1970s, she quickly became aware of the challenges and societal pressures that survivors of domestic violence were facing in New York City. Motivated by these experiences, Judge Kluger became a founding member and Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Bureau and Chief of the Criminal Court Bureau soon thereafter. In 1988, Judge Kluger was appointed to the New York City Criminal Court. Additionally, she was a key member of the development team and the first presiding judge at the Midtown Community Court, a project that received national acclaim for its innovative handling of quality of life crimes and which began an era of development of problem solving courts throughout the country.

Judge Kluger is an active member of numerous professional associations and is a frequent public speaker and panelist. She is currently a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, The Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, and the New York City Domestic Violence Task Force. Judge Kluger also co-chairs the New York State Bar Association / the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (NYSBA/WBASNY) Domestic Violence Initiative.

Judge Kluger has received many honors and awards including the New York Law Journal’s Lawyers Who Lead by Example award; the New York State Bar Association Excellence in Public Service award; the Lawyer’s Committee against Domestic Violence in the Trenches award; and Sanctuary’s Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety.

Charlotte A. Watson serves as Executive Director of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts and as Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Policy & Planning. She develops educational and training programs for local and state courts and creates economic, technological solutions for delivering high quality training across multiple venues and provides technical assistance to the courts on issues related to domestic violence and human trafficking. Ms. Watson brings over forty years of leadership experience in addressing violent crimes against women. She has been instrumental in strengthening New York’s laws on domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Her career began in Texas as a founder of one of the first programs to meet the needs of victims of rape and domestic violence. She moved to New York in 1986 to serve as Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place, an internationally recognized domestic violence organization. She served on the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors, chairing the legislative committee and on the Advisory Board of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. In 1999, she was appointed by the Governor to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and later as the State Refugee Coordinator and Senior Advisor on Human Trafficking to the Governor. While working in the governor’s office, she crafted the New York State response to human trafficking and in 2006, organized the first statewide conference on human trafficking bringing together stakeholders from every sector to begin building a coordinated effort for change in New York. She joined the Unified Court System in 2007 where she has presented numerous judicial educational programs on topics related to gender-based violence and assisted in the development of human trafficking and domestic violence courts.  In 2015, she co-edited the Lawyer’s Manual on Domestic Violence, 6th Edition and organized the National Summit on Human Trafficking and the State Courts which brought together chief judges and their teams from forty-six states and four territories to develop action plans for their states.

Ms. Watson has created numerous coalitions and collaborations during her career to bring about unprecedented partnerships and change. She was one of the first in the country to involve men in the effort to end domestic violence and partnered with the NY Giants and the NY Yankees in this effort. She has been on numerous television and radio programs and quoted in many newspapers. Ms. Watson was named by Gannett Newspapers as one of the 100 Most Influential Westchester, Rockland, Putnam Citizens of the 20th Century, listed in Who’s Who of American Women; Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals; Who’s Who in the World and cited in the Congressional Record. She was honored by the Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence with the In the Trenches Award and has been named one of New York’s New Abolitionists.