Good afternoon Members,
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced today that the new state budget will enable the judiciary to reverse many of the difficult budget decisions that were made last year including the controversial decision to deny the certification applications of 46 Supreme Court justices, which led to a high-profile lawsuit.
The certification allows state judges to remain on the bench after they reach the age of 70.
“With New York having received federal aid to relieve the enormous budget deficit caused by the pandemic, and with that aid redounding to the benefit of the judiciary, we are now able to spend up to our full appropriation level, which means that our commitments can be fulfilled and those Supreme Court justices who wish to renew their certification applications are now encouraged and welcome to do so,” said DiFiore.
During the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates meeting on Saturday, April 10, members expressed their concern that older justices were not allowed to remain on the bench. On Monday, April 12, the bar association relayed those concerns in conversations with top court officials.
“It is indeed welcome news that New York State Supreme Court justices who are past the age of 70 will once again be allowed to apply to continue as judges,” said Scott M. Karson, president of the New York State Bar Association. “The announcement today by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore that this decision has been reversed will help our justice system run more smoothly and improve access to justice for lawyers and litigants.”
Last fall, in response to the news that the governor would cut the state judiciary budget by 10%, or roughly $300 million, DiFiore said the Administrative Board of the Courts decided to deny the applications of 46 Supreme Court justices for certification or recertification to additional two year-terms of service beginning Jan. 1, 2021 and that it would save the court system about $55 million over the next two years. At the time, DiFiore also announced a strict hiring freeze and a deferral on raises to help them avoid or limit layoffs to their nonjudicial workforce.
In her address today, DiFiore said the court system, in light of the new state budget, can also ease their strict hiring freeze and lift many of the other austerity measures imposed last year. She said the court system also looks forward to increasing nonjudicial staffing levels, expanding court services, paying deferred collectively bargained raises to employees, and restoring $8.5 million in grant funding for civil legal services.
OCA To End Twitter Alerts
Beginning May 1, emergency alerts and other notifications including court closures will no longer be announced on Twitter, according to the New York court system’s Office of Court Administration (OCA).
Instead, alerts will go out through the New York Courts Emergency Alert Portal, which launched just over a year ago. The new portal is hosted by NY Alert, a state public notification platform.
OCA announced last year that it would be ending Twitter alerts and switch to the new portal but decided to hold off and continue with alerts on both systems when the pandemic hit.
To receive emergency alerts from the court system, OCA said to register at www.nycourts.gov/alerts/.
Monday, April 19 – Making an Initial Appearance in a NY Criminal Case: Remote and In-Person.
Friday, April 23 – Clinical, Legal, Ethical Considerations in Deliberative Democracy in a Pandemic.
Friday, April 30 – Landlord-Tenant Law During COVID: A Plague on Both Your Houses.
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The New York State Bar Association’s Executive Committee has adopted proposed revisions to Article IX of the State Constitution – commonly referred to as “home rule” – regarding implied preemption, which has been a source of much uncertainty and litigation over the years.
Scott Karson, NYSBA’s first all-virtual president in its 144-year history, addressed the House of Delegates on Saturday discussing the importance of resilience and how NYSBA’s vital work supports the rule of law and democracy.