The state Legislature, which put money in the budget for 20 additional Family Court judges, must now pass a second bill “without delay” so that the judges can began hearing cases in January, New York State Bar President David M. Schraver said Monday.
In an April 24 letter, Schraver, of Rochester (Nixon, Peabody), thanked members of the Legislature for providing funding for 20 new judgeships.
“However, a bill authorizing the new positions must still be enacted,” he wrote. “With funding in place, this is now the highest priority for the bar association in the remaining weeks of the session.”
The current shortage of judges contributes to delays in resolving cases that affect the well-being of children.
“Delays too often leave these children in limbo and in an uncertain status while their cases drag on,” he said. “For example, delays affecting who has custody over children or who has visiting rights need to be resolved quickly if their lives are to be stable.”
Family Court also handles adoptions; cases of children who are victims of abuse, neglect and family violence; and other legal matters. “In all of these cases, undue delay has a long-term, and even lifetime, impact on a young child,” Schraver said.
In 2013, the State Bar Association released a report of its Task Force on Family Court (www.nysba.org/substantivereports), citing numerous reasons for the extensive delays in Family Court proceedings and identified the inadequate number of judges as the first and most important problem that needs to be addressed.
“The Association recognizes that all of the Family Court’s problems will not be fixed with the addition of 20 new judgeships, but it also recognizes that the court’s problems cannot be fixed without these judges,” Schraver said in his letter.