Faculty Influence New York City and State Law and Policymaking
City and state government officials frequently tap Brooklyn Law School faculty members for their knowledge, insight, and guidance, as well as the passion they have for the issues they care about most.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Professor David Reiss, an expert in real estate finance and consumer finance law and founding director of the Law School’s Community Development Clinic, as chair of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. Reiss will lead the nine-member board, which is mandated to establish rent adjustments for the approximately 1 million dwelling units subject to the Rent Stabilization Law in New York City. The Board holds an annual series of public meetings and hearings to consider research from staff and testimony from owners, tenants, advocacy groups, and industry experts. Reiss, who is the author of the forthcoming book Paying for the American Dream: How to Reform the Market for Mortgages (Oxford University Press, 2019), was appointed to the board in 2017.
“The Rent Guidelines Board is integral to the health of the New York City housing stock, and I am honored to continue serving on it in my new capacity as chair,” said Reiss.
Professor Minna Kotkin, an expert on issues of employment discrimination and sexual harassment and director of the Law School’s Employment Law Clinic, testified before the New York State Legislature on Feb. 13 in a joint Senate and Assembly Public Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. This was the first public hearing on harassment held by New York lawmakers in nearly 30 years, prompted by an increase in reported incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as social media and high-profile news reports of sexual harassment claims that have garnered national attention.
Kotkin—who has been a frequent commentator in the media about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement—focused her remarks on two issues: confidentiality agreements that “protect serial harassers, allow companies to shield themselves from public scrutiny, and silence women who should have every right to discuss their experiences as they see fit,” and the need to recognize that sex discrimination in the workplace can also take many different forms that do not involve sexual harassment.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Law Kate Mogulescu, a national expert on human trafficking issues and director of the Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic, has co-authored a report, State Report Cards: Grading Criminal Record Relief Laws for Survivors of Human Trafficking, that rates all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on the effectiveness of their criminal record relief laws for survivors of human trafficking. The report was released jointly by the American Bar Association’s Survivor Reentry Project, which Mogulescu leads, the University of Baltimore School of Law, and the Polaris Project. Mogulescu also assisted in drafting legislation now pending in New York to expand the criminal record relief law for trafficking survivors by allowing vacatur of all convictions when the offense was a result of being a trafficking victim. The bill also corrects an important oversight by ensuring that all court documents filed by survivors are kept confidential and allows cases from multiple counties to be consolidated into one proceeding. Mogulescu has also consulted on legislative efforts in Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Nevada.
“Criminalized trafficking survivors need the ability to shed the heavy burden of their criminal records,” Mogulescu said. “Many have carried this weight for years, if not decades.”