The 2005 City Charter Revision Commission proposed a Charter amendment to require the Mayor and the Chief Judge of the Office of the Administrative Trials and Hearings to create a code of ethics for the over 500 administrative law judges and hearing officers in the City’s administrative tribunals. At the time it was unclear to what extent the State Code of Judicial Conduct applied to and could be enforced against ALJs. The proposition passed, and in 2006 Mayor Bloomberg created the Office of the Administrative Justice Coordinator and appointed David Goldin as its head. Working with the Law Department and the Conflict of Interest Board, Goldin oversaw the creation of rules of conduct that ALJs use today.
Goldin was born and raised in New York City. Both of his parents were psychiatrists, which originally led him toward the related field of sociology. He attended three years of graduate school before switching his focus and graduating from Yale Law School. He found that law brought together a number of intellectual activities he was interested in, especially logic, argument, data organization and solution seeking.
After Yale, Goldin clerked for Judge Jose A. Cabranes in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, before Judge Cabranes was appointed to the Second Circuit. After the clerkship Goldin moved back to New York City where he worked in private practice first for Debevoise & Plimpton in the firm’s general litigation department, and then Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in the firm’s employment labor division.
Goldin moved into the public sector in 1989, serving as Assistant Corporation Council in the Law Department’s affirmative litigation division. In ten years at the Law Department, Goldin was heavily involved in several landmark cases. In the early 1990s, the City sued the Commerce Department alleging a systematic bias leading to an undercounting in the 1990 decennial census and seeking to compel the use of the statistical adjustment, which received a high level support because of its use in other Commerce models. While the Supreme Court did not compel the adjustment, the suit had a significant impact on how the Commerce Department would later conduct the census and litigation arising from those decisions.
Goldin and the Law Department also participated as a co-plaintiff in the important school funding case in which the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the City challenged the constitutionality of the state’s public school financing. The City’s claim was dismissed early on, but the Law Department continued to provide legal support to the plaintiffs who eventually won the case. As a result of that litigation, the Court of Appeals ruled that the New York State Constitution requires the State to offer all children a “sound basic education.”
Since his appointment as Administrative Justice Coordinator, Goldin has been instrumental in the consolidation of administrative cases under the Office of the Administrative Trials and Hearings. This major effort to modernize the City’s administrative tribunals began with Council legislation which transferred cases involving the Departments of Sanitation, Building, Fire and Transportation from the Environmental Control Board to OATH. The 2010 City Charter Revision Commission then proposed an amendment enabling the Mayor to continue the consolidation via executive order. The Mayor has since transferred cases from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and the Business Integrity Commission to OATH.
With the initial stages of consolidation complete, Goldin has turned his attention to how City agencies process summonses and case tracking. In September 2016, under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office, Goldin helped generate a comprehensive report analyzing the quality of summonses issued and how to improve them. The report graphed the quality of summonses over a three year period and noted that dismissals of charges returnable to OATH have been reduced from 9.8 percent to 8.4 percent—a reduction that represents thousands of cases. The report also laid out the forthcoming and aptly named Environmental Coordination Statistics, or ECoStat—designed to provide enforcement agencies with extensive data analysis to help improve the quality of the summonses that they issue.
Goldin has found his public service tremendously rewarding. As the Administrative Justice Coordinator he faces today a very different set of challenges from those he faced ten years ago. For those thinking of entering the public sector, Goldin is encouraging and points out that public service is how real and lasting changes get made.
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).