Pro Bono Team Challenges Home Surveillance of Domestic Violence Survivors in NY Family Court System

2 minute read | December.07.2023

  • An Orrick appellate team today joined in a constitutional challenge to the home surveillance practices of New York City's Administration for Children's Services against victims of domestic violence. The appeal was filed on behalf of the mother of a one-month-old baby, seeking to vacate an order from Kings County (Brooklyn) Family Court that requires her to comply with ongoing and limitless surveillance of her home and her child’s body by the ACS.
  • The court record shows that our client is accused of no wrongdoing. To the contrary, she was the victim of domestic violence, committed by the baby’s father, who is now barred from her home. Our client is nevertheless being forced to allow unlimited government inspections of her home—despite the father’s absence—just to keep custody of her daughter.
  • The appeal argues the state has no statutory power to order these inspections, and that the order violates our client’s core constitutional rights. In addition to vindicating our client’s rights, the case seeks to protect similarly situated domestic violence survivors across the state who have likewise done nothing wrong. They too should be protected from this harmful state intrusion into their family lives.
  • Orrick is collaborating on the case in the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, with the Family Justice Law Center and the NYU Family Defense Clinic.
  • “We’re proud to take on this fight to protect basic American freedoms,” said Orrick partner Naomi Scotten, who is heading the firm’s pro bono effort. “Family services should not be inserting itself into the home lives of fit parents. We hope that this case ensures that mothers like our client can raise their children without unjustified state interference.”

In addition to Naomi, the Orrick team includes paralegal Amy Gerrish and the contributions of former associate Kufere Laing.