Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Children’s Law Center Names Interim Committee to Replace Director
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles has chosen a four-person committee to lead the agency while it searches for a permanent director, the president of the center’s board said yesterday.
Edward Lazarus said the board chose CLC Policy Director Leslie Starr Heimov and unit heads David Estep, Ivy Lewis Carey and Marc Leftwich to lead the CLC while it searches for a replacement for former Executive Director Miriam Krinsky.
Krinsky resigned Dec. 15, saying she could no longer run day-to-day operations while concentrating on CLC’s “policy and reform agenda.” Lazarus said last week that Krinsky will concentrate on external activities such as lobbying and fundraising.
The nonprofit agency represents most children in Los Angeles Superior Court dependency cases.
Lazarus said the decision came after the board met last Tuesday with supervisors, who unanimously recommended that a small group of inside leadership personnel lead the center until a replacement director is hired. The board conferred last Wednesday, announced the decision internally the same day, and met with the entire staff Thursday, Lazarus said.
Krinsky’s resignation came after more than two years of controversy regarding the reorganization of CLC, the successor to Dependency Court Legal Services. The organization had operated as three independent legal units, each functioning as a separate law firm, enabling them to represent clients with potentially or actually conflicting interests.
Under the reorganization, however, the independent units are being phased out. A panel of outside attorneys has been formed to represent children in cases where CLC declares a conflict.
A separate organization, headed by Calabasas lawyer Kenneth Krekorian, will represent parents of dependent children, who were formerly represented by DCLS.
Lazarus said the CLC board “certainly expect[s] to continue with the consolidation” but is “open to new ideas about how best to accomplish it.”
The former heads of two of the units say they were fired by Krinsky for opposing the consolidation, which they say subjects clients to the loss of their right to conflict-free representation.
The two ex-employees, Anne E. Fragasso and Kenneth P. Sherman, are suing CLC for wrongful termination, age discrimination, violation of the state whistleblower statute, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The organization has moved for summary judgment in the case, and that motion is set to be heard early next year.
Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash, who has supported Krinsky and the reorganization, said he did not believe her resignation will affect the court or bring about change in the structure of CLC, which has a contract with the state to provide representation under appointment by the court.
A former CLC lawyer, who did not want to be quoted by name, said that Krinsky had done much good in the area of external relations. But the reorganization had strengthened her control of the organization at the expense of morale and led to substantial attrition, with experienced lawyers being replaced by those with little background in juvenile law, the attorney said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company