2020 Annual Report

New York City Law Department
Year In Review 2020

James E. Johnson, Corporation Counsel
New York City Law Department, 100 Church Street, New York, NY 10007

Georgia Pestana - First Assistant Corporation Counsel
Muriel Goode-Trufant - Managing Attorney
Asim Rehman - Chief of Staff
Steven Stein Cushman - Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel for Commercial Law
Richard Dearing - Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel & Chief of Appeals
Thomas Giovanni - Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel for Government Policy and Chief of Staff
Stephen Louis - Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel & Chief of Legal Counsel

For more information, visit our website: www.nyc.gov/law

With offices in all five boroughs and Kingston, New York, the New York City Law Department handles over 80,000 active or ongoing legal matters each year. In addition to litigating cases, attorneys draft and review local and State legislation; approve leases, contracts and financial instruments for the sale of municipal bonds; negotiate and structure business transactions; and provide legal counsel to City officials on a wide range of issues, such as immigration, education, judicial election reform and environmental policy. Listed below are some major issues and matters handled by the various Law Department divisions in 2020.

Message from Corporation Counsel Jim Johnson: "With another passing year as Corporation Counsel, I continue to be awed by the diverse legal work faced by New York City and my office. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus, the killing of George Floyd, the racial strife and difficult circumstances that followed, our economic challenges – all these conspired to plunge New York City, and the Law Department, into many of our greatest challenges in history. Yet I'm equally as impressed by the dedication of our staff and the quality of our work done. I'm privileged to serve in this role and work with my capable, caring and hard-working attorneys and support professionals. The ongoing challenges faced by our City, and our country as a whole, continue to boggle the mind. Yet the Law Department has embraced an esprit de corps that highlights our strong, cohesive bond in troubled times. We're joining together to come out on the other side. We look forward to sharing that vision with everyone."

Legal Divisions

Administrative Law & Regulatory Litigation

Division Chief: Sheryl Neufeld | Deputy Chief: Michelle Goldberg-Cahn

  • Public Health Crisis – COVID-19: Successfully defended scores of constitutional challenges in federal and state courts to the City's policies and City-issued emergency orders issued in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Various orders upheld included curfews and restrictions on public gatherings, houses of worship, indoor and outdoor dining, and use of gyms and theatres, among others. Worked on initiatives and orders to assist with containing the highly contagious COVDI-19 outbreak.
  • Affordable Housing: Handled numerous cases in federal court seeking to strike down the City and State's longstanding Rent Stabilization Law, a cornerstone for maintaining affordable housing in the City. After new changes to the law in 2019, various building owners associations and groups challenged the new requirements to the Rent Stabilization Law in several different federal courts arguing that the law was an unconstitutional "taking," as well as that it violated substantive due process rights.
  • Street Painted Messages: Litigated case by a political group seeking to paint its own public messages on New York City streets in response to the government-issued speech painted on City Streets supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Successfully avoided an injunction requiring the City to allow other groups to paint their own political messages on the streets.
  • Tenant Protections During COVID-19 Pandemic: Safeguarded local laws enacted to protect commercial and residential tenants that became vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Successfully defended a challenge to commercial and residential harassment laws alleging they were unconstitutional restrictions on lawful speech, were unconstitutionally vague, violated the Contracts Clause and Guaranty Clause of the Constitution, and were preempted by state law.
  • Zoning Challenges to Tall Buildings: Successfully defended challenges to zoning determinations allowing for the building of two tall buildings in Manhattan neighborhoods that were authorized under the zoning resolution, but will allow very tall buildings to be built on the Upper West Side and Lower East Side. This protected deference to zoning experts and boards to make interpretations of complex zoning issues.

Affirmative Litigation

Division Chief: Gail Rubin | Deputy Chiefs: Eric Proshansky & Tonya Jenerette

  • Anarchist Jurisdiction Funding: Led a coalition of cities through the Division’s Impact Litigation Unit to stop former President Donald Trump's Presidential Memorandum stripping federal funding from "anarchist cities."
  • Census Apportionment: Joined a coalition of states and cities through the Impact Litigation Unit to challenge the Trump Administration Executive Order excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count for apportionment purposes, prevailing in the district and appellate courts (though the U.S. Supreme Court reversed on ripeness grounds).
  • CARES Act Funding: Stopped U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' diversion of tens of millions of pandemic relief dollars away from economically disadvantaged students in NYC public schools as a result of successful national coalition challenge.
  • Broadband Access: Helped tackle the digital divide in NYC by requiring Verizon to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make high-speed fiber broadband available to 500,000 additional households, including in NYCHA residential buildings, under its cable franchise agreement.
  • E-cigarette Sales: Ended unlawful marketing and sales of addictive e-cigarettes to underage City residents by 20 out-of-state website operators with consent orders requiring age verification and escalating penalties for future violations.
  • Tenant Protection: Obtained through the new Tenant Protection Unit the correction of hazardous code violations in numerous buildings, handled 12 active court cases to ensure repairs, and filed the first case under the City's unlawful eviction law to protect against tenant harassment during the pandemic.
  • False Claims Act: Partnered with the NY Attorney General to recover for deferred-compensation tax fraud by a hedge fund manager in the largest false claims act recovery against an individual defendant in New York.


Division Chief: Richard Dearing | Deputy Chiefs: Claude Platton & Devin Slack

  • U.S. Supreme Court Litigation: Persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court that a Second Amendment challenge to a local rule governing the transport of firearms was moot, avoiding a ruling on the merits that could have dealt a blow to reasonable firearms regulations across the country.
  • Land Use and Environmental Litigation: Fended off challenges to a range of developments in the New York State Appellate Division, including a project that will bring the largest privately financed affordable housing in the City's history to the Two Bridges neighborhood and the rezoning of the Inwood neighborhood to promote affordable housing, open space and other benefits.
  • Minimum Driver Pay: Successfully defended a rule by the Taxi and Limousine Commission that ensures that drivers at for-hire vehicle companies like Uber and Lyft receive a minimum level of compensation.
  • Amicus Briefs: Filed amicus briefs in federal and state courts across the country, including an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court about religious exemptions to state and local non-discrimination requirements and a range of amicus briefs challenging a gag rule prohibiting recipients of federal funding from providing complete and unbiased information to pregnant patients.

Commercial & Real Estate Litigation

Division Chief: Nancy Brodie | Deputy Chiefs: Richard Schulsohn & Robert Funkhouser

  • Favorably Resolved Dispute over Undelivered Ventilators: Protected the public fisc with a favorable resolution that avoided City paying tens of millions of dollars for ventilators ordered at start of COVID crisis – but not delivered in the required timeframes and no longer needed.
  • Upheld City's Plan for Housing Homeless Individuals During COVID Crisis: Defeated a challenge to the Department of Homeless Services' plans to transfer homeless individuals from a temporary hotel to a location DHS deemed safer during the pandemic.
  • Won Dismissal of $128 Million Claim: Protected the public fisc by defeating a claim that City was responsible under the lien law for losses arising out of financial collapse of the world's largest ferris wheel project on Staten Island.
  • Upheld CDRB Decision Dismissing $13 Million Claim: Defeated a contractor's Article 78 challenge to a Contract Dispute Resolution Board decision enforcing the City's standard construction contract provisions and dismissing delay damages claim.

Contracts & Real Estate

Division Chief: Amrita Prabhakar Barth | Deputy Chief: Isabel Galis-Menendez

  • On-Call Emergency Contracts: Counseled the On-Call Emergency Contract Task Force on the procurement of 45 on-call emergency contracts designed to provide services that will respond to large-scale declared emergencies.
  • New York Public Library Capital Projects: Worked to help create a streamlined and more efficient process for City approval of NYPL capital improvements, supported by $100 million in City Capital Funding, including the a renovation of the mid-Manhattan Library.
  • Commercial Waste Zones: Worked with the City and office colleagues to implement a system of zoned collection for commercial waste. (Commercial waste zones reduce truck traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.)
  • IDNYC: Counseled City Hall and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in discussions on the addition of a chip to the IDNYC card that would facilitate banking services for IDNYC holders.
  • Project Labor Agreements: Provided counsel to City Hall for re-negotiation of the Citywide project labor agreements.

Economic Development

Division Chief: Betty Woo | Deputy Chief: Kim Bryan

  • Bedford Union Armory: Closed on the sale and leasing of the Armory site in Brooklyn for a mixed-use redevelopment project that will include affordable housing and recreational facilities.
  • NYC Tech Hub: Leased a former P.C. Richard & Son site on East 14th Street in Union Square for construction of a new commercial tower that will include digital job training facilities and flexible office space for tech startups.
  • New Essex Street Market: Acquired a commercial condominium as part of the City's Essex Crossing development for use as the New Essex Street Market, which includes 39 market stalls, demonstration kitchen and two restaurants.
  • Beach 21st Street Lease: Executed a lease for redevelopment of a former bus parking site for a mixed-use project that will include affordable housing, retail and community facilities space as part of the City's efforts to revitalize Downtown Far Rockaway in Queens.

Environmental Law

Division Chief: Hilary Meltzer | Deputy Chief: Chris Reo

  • Supporting Shelter Goals: Advised on environmental and equity issues during COVID and defended several challenges to new homeless shelters and to the emergency arrangements the City made to protect shelter residents during the crisis.
  • Advancing Land Use Decisions: Advised on and defended against several lawsuits concerning the City's use of remote public hearings to allow land use reviews to proceed without risking public health and safety during the COVID emergency.
  • Challenging Greenwashing by Fossil Fuel Companies: Commenced an action alleging that ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and the American Petroleum Institute violated the City's Consumer Protection Law through misleading advertising campaigns directed at consumers in NYC.
  • Resiliency Projects: Advised agencies on several projects to make areas of the City more resilient to sea level rise, including the Rockaways, the South Shore of Staten Island, and the East Village/Lower East Side.
  • Superfund: Advised City agencies and worked with the federal government on investigations and remediation of four federal NYC Superfund sites, with the goals of preserving the City's remaining industrial waterways and protecting public health.

Family Court

Division Chief: Jennifer Gilroy Ruiz | Deputy Chiefs: Jessica Latour, Rosemarie Peyton, Aimee Sklar-Calogero & Cecillia Shepard

  • Juvenile Delinquency Prosecution: Worked in the NYC Family, Criminal and Supreme Courts to handle all juvenile delinquency cases and more than 80 percent of adolescent offender cases that originated in the Youth Parts across the City. Supported victims of youth crime and continued to advocate for rehabilitative outcomes that balance the needs and best interests of youth with the need for community safety. Enhanced prosecution of serious felony matters, including a substantial increase in firearms cases. Staff remain assigned to Weekend, Holiday and Evening Court, working 365 days and nights a year to ensure that youths have an expedited appearance before a judge to reduce detention time.
  • Interstate Child Support: Established orders of parentage and child support; also pursued modification and enforcement of existing child support orders on behalf of City residents and out-of-state families. Supported the expansion of the Parent Support Program to all five boroughs. Developed in-house legal and skills trainings for attorneys and support professionals across the division and collaborated with other jurisdictions to conduct virtual training across in the country.
  • Community Outreach and Diversion: Pivoting quickly in response to the pandemic, worked to provide virtual community outreach and increased diversion for youth. Our diversion team has identified additional community resources, allowing for a greater number of youth to be diverted away from the formal court process and engage in culturally competent programs with a restorative aspect.

General Litigation

Division Chief: Thomas Crane | Deputy Chiefs: Marilyn Richter & Jonathan Pines

  • COVID Litigation: Successfully handled a motion to enjoin after the City decided shelter residents could safely leave temporary COVID-related hotel housing and return to shelter placements.
  • Foster Care: Defeated a class certification in case challenging various aspects of the Administration for Children's Services placement of children in foster care, effectively ending the case.
  • Student Schooling: Successfully defended Department of Education's offer of hybrid instruction (some remote and some in-person) to all students, including those with disabilities, during the pandemic.
  • Homeless and Runaway Youth: Entered into a settlement agreement whereby the City will continue to maintain the present level of services as well as establish related disciplinary procedures.

Labor & Employment Law

Division Chief: Eric Eichenholtz | Deputy Chiefs: Paul Marks & Andrea O'Connor

  • Employee Safety: Handled emergency requests regarding employee safety for essential staff during COVID, working to ensure the best possible protections for them.
  • Reasonable Accommodations: Liaised with agencies as well to advise on reasonable accommodations requests.
  • Remote Work: Advised the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the Office of Labor Relations on policies to enable "work from home," a mammoth task after the pandemic first hit.
  • Trials and Client Advice: Continued handling the division's usual high-volume caseload while advising agency clients on emerging labor & employment law developments.

Legal Counsel

Division Chief: Stephen Louis | Deputy Chiefs: Martha Mann Alfaro & Spencer Fisher

  • Charter Revision Commission: Agency attorneys were deeply involved in drafting new ranked choice voting provisions that have been used in the 2021 primaries for City offices.
  • Commercial Waste Zones: Worked closely with City agencies and the City Council to finalize extensive legislation to reform the regulatory scheme governing the commercial trade waste system, including a transition to a new system of commercial waste zones, with each zone served by selected carters.
  • Lead Paint Legislation: Worked with the City Council and our client agencies to reform the City's lead paint laws with the goal of making them some of the most protective in the country. This required the full abatement of lead in schools and the setting up of a path to substantially lower the legal threshold for lead.
  • Specialized High Schools: Worked closely with litigators to defend the change in criteria for, and expansion of, the Discovery Program for entrance to the City's specialized high schools.
  • Climate Change: Worked with agencies and the Council to enact a nationally recognized climate mobilization package that new limits on building greenhouse gas emissions that become stricter over time, taking an important step toward the City's larger goal of reducing overall emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
  • Hairstyle Discrimination: Worked with the Labor & Employment Law Division and the City Commission on Human Rights to prepare guidance about how the City's Human Rights Law protects individuals against discrimination based on their hairstyle. The guidance, which applies to employers, and providers of public accommodations and housing, explains that the law protects the rights of individuals to wear natural hairstyles as well as styles associated with their race, ethnicity or cultural identity.

Municipal Finance

Division Chief: Albert Rodriguez | Deputy Chief: Michael Moore

  • Bond Transactions: Provided legal services on dozens of City bond transactions totaling approximately $18 billion to fund or refinance City capital projects.
  • Bond Refinancing: Refunding bond transactions resulted in savings of about $740 million for City bond issuers.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy Retrofits (PACE) Program: Worked with other City agencies to establish the PACE program, a financing vehicle that offers commercial building owners up to 100 percent funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The owners would repay the funding through quarterly property assessments incorporated in the property's City property tax bill.
  • Renewable Energy Procurement: Assisted other City agencies in analyzing renewable energy options to meet the City's carbon reduction goals.

Special Federal Litigation

Division Chief: Patricia Miller | Deputy Chiefs: Frances Sands, Peter Farrell & Elizabeth Dollin

  • Justice Through Case Resolution: In October 2020, resolved the equitable relief (non-monetary) portion of two cases centering around the right of people to not remove religious head coverings for arrest photographs. The agreement established a new protocol intended to balance the interests of law enforcement and the right of those practicing firmly held religious beliefs. Significantly, the NYPD is among the first municipalities to allow individuals to not remove generally religious head coverings in arrest photographs. The agreement received praise nationally for establishing this new protocol.
  • Trials and Client Advice: Continued to defend its high-volume caseload (including a significant influx of protest-related arrests cases), engaged in discovery, met with clients electronically, attended virtual court conferences and tried two in-person jury trials. Specifically, in October 2020, the division tried the second in-person jury civil trial in the Southern District of New York that took place after the Court's remote-only policy that went into effect in March 2020. Trying cases in a pandemic world presented unique logistical issues, including attorneys having concerns with communicating with clients at trial (as they were required to sit at separate tables). Communication with trial partners was equally difficult. Additionally, because an attorney presenting to the jury or questioning a witness was required to stand in a plexiglass box, it was difficult to hear the witness and to see the jurors' reactions. This was further exacerbated by the fact that the jurors had to wear masks at all times. Despite these restrictions, SF prevailed with a $1 verdict.
  • Assisting Other Divisions: With Federal Jury Trials suspended during the pandemic, Special Fed assisted other divisions who were defending an exorbitant number of cases while confronting staffing issues due, in part, to COVID. For example, Special Fed volunteered in June 2020 to handle a habeas corpus writ filed by Legal Aid seeking the immediate release of any prisoner who had been in NYPD custody for more than 24 hours during that week (approximately 400 people). Relying on the Roundtree decision, which held that any detainment over 24 hours without arraignment was presumptively unreasonable (unless there was an explanation for the delay and which recognized that some situations that would justify greater delays), the City argued that because of the pandemic and the sudden increase in arrests related to protests, the City was clearly confronting a situation that justified delays in the arrest-to-arraignment process. In denying the writ from the bench, the Court quoted directly from the division's argument, stating that the City faced "a crisis within a crisis" and that the NYPD and DA offices were working a fast as possible to move arrestees through the system while still taking safety measures and adhering to social distancing requirements.

Tax & Bankruptcy Litigation

Division Chief: Vincent D'Orazio | Deputy Chiefs: Rochelle Cohen & Andrea Chan

  • Dismissal of Challenge to Valuation of Special Franchise Property: Intervened as a party of interest in Con Edison's challenge to the state's valuation of its special franchise property constituting the public grid. A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department affirmed the dismissal by the lower court of proceedings filed for tax years 2009/10 through 2012-2013 for Con Edison's failure to file timely notes of issue. The dismissal saved the City approximately $375 million.
  • Eminent Domain Used in Resiliency Efforts: Acquired title by eminent domain to nearly 200 vacant properties in the South Beach, Oakwood Beach and New Creek watersheds in Staten Island for the Department of Environmental Protection's Bluebelt Program. This program will preserve and enhance these acquired properties to provide comprehensive storm water management and reduce chronic street and property flooding in Staten Island over several decades.
  • REITS: Successfully had a Property Transfer Tax Deficiency of $9.4 Million Dollars plus interest sustained by Appellate Division, First Department.
  • Bankruptcy Dismissal: Obtained the dismissal of a suit filed in bankruptcy court in Florida seeking $60 million in damages. In this case, the plaintiff filed an adversary proceeding against the City seeking $60 million in damages for continuous trespass and a declaration that the City had improperly assessed its real property for tax purposes since 1987 through the current tax year.


Division Chief: Fay Leoussis | Deputy Chiefs: Jenny Montana-O'Connor, Lavanya Pisupati, Andrew Potak, David Santoro & Nancy Savasta | Director of Personnel Management: LaVonne Pridgen

  • Settlements While Office Closed During COVID: Worked almost totally virtually during FY 2021, with a staff toiling remotely while the courts were mostly physically closed. The division nevertheless set as a goal to keep its caseload moving and to continue to resolve as many cases as possible, thus avoiding a spike in backlogged cases. Each of the nine Tort litigating boroughs and units conceived of a variety of remote settlement projects, which, as of the end of May 2021 produced astonishing results: 3,047 settlements vs. 3,516 last fiscal year – only an 11-percent decline while operating in a pandemic. At the same time, division managers focused on training swaths of staff on the art and skill of negotiation, which will continue enhancing the office's and the City's knowledge base for future years.
  • Medicare Reporting: Continued a "platinum standard of practice" via the Medicare Compliance and Recovery Unit regarding Medicare (MCRU) reporting and reimbursement. MCRU has facilitated the collection of more than $1.5 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2020, for a grand total of $19.5 million collected since 2011. Due to the sophisticated tracking and procedures implemented by the Medicare team, no judgments have been entered against the City for non-payment of Medicare settlements.
  • Additional Training: Developed and delivered a virtual seven-week summer intern training program that addressed the fundamentals of Tort practice. Created an e-learning training program addressing Tort fundamentals for support professionals that included "Topic of the Week" and "Let's Talk" manuals, webinars and Kahoot!(s). Developed a fully remote Continuing Legal Education-accredited Tort Division Training Program for new attorneys, which provided 30 different courses over a 3-month period. In addition, enhanced CLE-approved remote interactive in-house trial trainings were provided for intake attorneys, managers and some second-year ACCs that addressed all aspects of trial, including how to effectively prepare a case for trial, jury selection, motions in limine, opening statements, how to admit evidence at trial (e.g., hearsay, non-party discovery), direct- and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, closing arguments, preservation of the record and post-verdict motion practice.

Workers' Compensation

Division Chief: Mindy Roller | Deputy Chief: Paul Zaragoza

  • New Claims: Received, processed and managed 15,831 new work-related accident claims from municipal employees. Represented the City at 14,604 administrative hearings before the Workers' Compensation Board. Provided $418.4 million in wage replacement and paid $57.6 million for medical care.
  • Revenue Recovery: Achieved revenue recovery of over $10 million asserting third party liens, intercompany transfer arbitration and reimbursement through the State Second Injury Fund.
  • Claims Management System Conversion: Completed the transition to a web-based claims management system. This has simplified and streamlined claim processing as well as transferred all data from a physical on-site server to a cloud storage solution.

Support Divisions


Division Chief: Kenneth Majerus | Deputy Chief: Jennie Nagle

  • COVID-19 Response: Helped spearhead the Law Department's multi-pronged approach to responding to the pandemic and ensure that New York City's legal operations continued while encouraging safety for staff and residents. This included:
    • Supported the Agency's response to the call for Social Distance Ambassadors in the parks and other public places, ensuring they had adequate supplies of PPE and informational palm cards. Over the summer, 32,000 face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizers were received and deployed to Ambassadors in every borough.
    • Took the lead at the beginning of the pandemic to secure face coverings, gloves and disinfecting supplies from a variety of non-traditional sources and deployed those to employees required to be in the office to provide administrative and other support.
    • Oversaw, via work of key colleagues, the implementation of the Agency's Reopening Resources Sharepoint page with vital information about the Agency's COVID-19 response and return-to-office planning.
    • Outfitted, via our Facilities staff, 20 offices with physical distancing signage and decals, sneezeguards and plexiglass partitions, touchless hand sanitizer dispensers, and disinfecting wipe dispensers in support of our emergency operations agencywide.
  • COVID-Related Technology Deployment: Launched the roll-out of new iPhones to legal staff, deploying over 57 new phones with Law Department e-mail and calendar and fully compliant with DoITT's mobile device management, along with another 150 upgraded devices and 25 Mi-Fi devices for staff who were primarily working from home. Facilities Central also ordered and assigned an additional 15 conference phone lines to assist divisions in holding office meetings while working from home.
  • Encumbrance Control Unit: Recorded 23,030 payment records for budget purposes, which were later uploaded to our LawManager case management system, representing nearly $60 million in spending.
  • New Space Acquisition: Moved Tort's Special Litigation Unit into a roughly 35,000-square-foot office at 233 Broadway, the culmination of years of design and outfitting work by our Special Projects team.
  • Personnel Moves: Achieved, via our Personnel Unit, the hiring and processing of 164 paid and unpaid legal and support staff starting in March, using as many online systems as we could – and all being done remotely.
  • Temporary Leased Space: Moved part of the Family Court team out of 22 Reade Street into permanent space at 100 Church Street as well as Family Court / Phase I Raise the Age staff out of Gertz Plaza in Jamaica to the Family Court Courthouse. This allowed a gut-renovation of those offices to ensure they functioned in the most streamlined manner possible.


Division Chief: Kenneth Becker | Deputy Chief: Sandra Metallo-Barragan

  • E-Discovery Services: Provided legal guidance and technical services to support Law Department attorneys in all aspects of the discovery of electronic evidence in litigation, governmental investigations, subpoenas and FOIL requests.
  • Empowering Attorneys: Enabled the City's litigators to comply with their e-discovery obligations in more than 200 cases.

Information Technology

Chief Information Officer: Edwin Francisque | Deputy Chief: Maria Rodriguez

  • Helpdesk Questions New Computers: Kept Helpdesk responses on par with previous years, answering more than 22,000 queries. (Due to the pandemic and remote work, most interactions were via e-mail this year.)
  • Remote Connectivity: Continued migrating the Citrix environment on to a high-availability platform.
  • Automation, Software: Continued ongoing upgrades of software applications that Law uses frequently in its practice. Also continued automating Family Court and Tort Division processes through Instaknow software.
  • Infrastructure: Continued working on agencywide refresh network hardware.

Litigation Support & Information Management

Division Chief: John Hupper | Deputy Chief: Beth Nedow | Director: Patty DeLisa

  • Practice Management: While working remotely for most of the year, generated over 1,000 production reports on regular schedules and over 2,700 civil lawsuit checks for various City, State and Federal prosecutor and/or investigative offices from the matter management system. Also continued to publish case-related data about our civil litigation dating back to 1960, pursuant to the City's Open Data Law and regarding alleged misconduct actions commenced and disposed pursuant to the City's Administrative Code.
  • Agency-Based Discovery Staff: Continued to provide support by conducting searches in response to discovery requests at the Department of Transportation and Department of Parks. Continued to provide support to the Department of Environmental protection to streamline discovery requests and to the Department of Education to conduct searches in response to discovery requests. The division also continued training and managing temporary staff assisting with discovery searches.
  • Information Governance: Added Special Federal Litigation Division access to NYPD body-worn camera videos, via Evidence.com. Assisted with rollout of Zoom videoconferencing as pandemic began. Continued to give wide-ranging techno-legal advice.


Division Chief: Jonathan Pinn | Deputy Chief: Omer Soykan

  • Division Office: In CY 2020, reviewed, verified and/or corrected and authorized over 750 invoices (for copying, process service, language services, etc.).
  • Reports: Also in CY 2020, generated and distributed well over 2,000 reports (e.g., agency reports, statements of costs, etc.) and contact lists. Ensured uptime and efficiency of HotDocs Template Portal, which permitted Agency team members to generate well over 1/4 million interview documents.
  • Communications & Docketing (CDS) and Central Services Units: Handled and processed, via the CDS team, over 1,500 buckets of mail and received, processed and routed well over 25,000 items served on New York in CY 2020. Brooklyn team members processed over 142,000 pieces mail and nearly 1,000 requests for service of process; it received and processed nearly $7 million of workers' comp checks. Both units also maintained new scanning procedures put into place during the pandemic to more quickly route materials to intended recipients.
  • Document & Data Processing (DDP): In 2020, handled 6500 requests via the DDP team, only a three-percent decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic from the prior year.
  • Duplication & Finishing: Responded, via our D&F team, to nearly 5,600 requests resulting in over 1.7 million pages and scanned well over 1/2 million original pages for clients in CY 2020.
  • Process & Couriers: Responded to nearly 8,000 requests to serve, file, deliver and pick-up and, in order to support Citywide work-from-home policies, onsite members helped to scan nearly 4,000 notice of claims packages to the Comptroller's Office and to Law Department personnel.
  • Electronic Information Group: Processed over 1/4 million electronic case file e-mails.
  • Training Unit: Learned and taught multiple classes in near record time and offered, for the first time, remote learning opportunities to larger groups of learners on subjects including but not limited to using Citrix, GoToMeeting, Zoom and others in order to support the Agency during the pandemic.

Support Units

Law Library

Director: Diana Bracho

  • Research: Continued innovating in how the Library offers research, both for office and agency colleagues, in particular leveraging tech capacities during the pandemic. Researched legislative histories and complicated legal issues, often with many agencies involved.
  • Social Media and Background Investigations: Handled thousands of ongoing research requests regarding those with Law Department business. Again, preserved volumes of evidence.
  • Information Resources: Cultivated new online legal resources and continued searching out hard-to-find print texts.
  • Training: Expanded training for staff spread out due to COVID and worked to enhance our social media investigations.

Legal Recruitment

Director: Stuart Smith | Deputy Director: Lillian Evans

  • Experienced Attorney Hiring: Recruited 18 experienced attorneys to work in nine different divisions.
  • Entry-Level Hiring: Hired 56 recent law school graduates from 18 law schools to work in nine different divisions.
  • Summer Program: Hosted 48 Summer Honors law student interns who, though remote, were able to experience working for New York City firsthand.

Press & Internal Comms

Public Affairs Director/Press Secy: Nicholas Paolucci | Internal Comms/Special Projects Director: Kate O'Brien Ahlers

  • Media & Public Affairs: Responded to breaking press requests, particularly those relating to the pandemic. Worked with City Hall on outreach and in liaising with reporters. Ensured the Mayor's Office and our agency clients were supported in press efforts.
  • Internal Comms & Projects: Despite our staff working remotely, connected all offices, agencies and Alums, as well as the Mayor's staff, through a broad array of outreach platforms, including internal news articles, COVID seminars, health advisories and the like. Enhanced office cohesion and worked on Special Projects like agencywide Town Halls, etc.

Professional & Organizational Development

Director: June Witterschein | Deputy Director: John Campbell

  • Programs: Designed and executed the "Teamwork for the Common Good" Program to better engage support professionals in the office's legal work through focus groups and intensive trainings.
  • Trial Training: Held a mock trial program that culminated in 15 jury trials completely remotely for the first time ever through video conference.
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Engaged all supervisors in racial inclusion circles to promote diversity and inclusion, and trained office staff as restorative justice circle keepers.