The New York State Bar Association is urging state legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo to include authorization for 20 Family Court judgeships in the new state budget being negotiated at the state Capitol.
State Bar President David Schraver said the new judgeships are a top lobbying priority of his group for 2014.
“Sadly, children’s lives are put on hold while too few judges struggle with burgeoning caseloads,” Schraver, of Nixon Peabody in Rochester, said in a statement Wednesday. “A six-month delay in resolving legal matters involving custody, foster case or adoption can put a vulnerable child at further risk, while also putting additional strain on the child welfare and court systems.”
Legislative sources said Wednesday the Assembly and Senate are in agreement over the need for the Family Court judgeships, but not about the size of the overall Judiciary budget. Authorization for the judgeships is not expected to be resolved until negotiations late in the budget process between legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has suggested that the court budget be trimmed but has said nothing about the proposal for additional judges.
Court administrators want the new judges to be in place on Jan. 1, 2015, and say the $5 million would cover their cost for the last three months of the next fiscal year. The new judges would cost $20 million annually beginning in the 2015-16 budget.
Schraver said a 2013 report from the state bar’s Task Force on Family Court made a persuasive case for the strain growing caseloads have placed on Family Courts and the need to add to the court’s existing 153 judgeships.