New York State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman today urged for the continuation of adequate funding of the state court system to ensure access to justice for all New Yorkers.
“We continue to emphasize that the Judiciary is the co-equal third branch of government. While we do not expect that funding for the courts will be equal to that of the other branches, court funding must be adequate, in order to efficiently and fairly provide access to justice throughout New York State,” Gerstman said in written testimony, presented during a public hearing in New York City, on the current state of the Judiciary.
Gerstman praised the Legislature for extending its constitutional obligation for indigent public criminal defense services granted under the Hurrell-Harring settlement statewide without increasing the biennial attorney registration fee in 2017–2018. Raising the fee to help fund the cost had been proposed in the Executive Budget, but was later removed.
Any attorney registration fee increases in the upcoming 2018–2019 budget would be an “unreasonable burden” on small law firms, solo practitioners, government attorneys, lawyers working for legal services providers and nonprofit entities and newly admitted attorneys in a difficult job market, she said.
“Extending Hurrell-Harring is a state obligation and a societal responsibility that should be paid for by the General Fund, not by a surcharge on lawyers,” Gerstman said.
Gerstman also commended Chief Judge Janet DiFiore for re-convening the Judicial Task Force on the New York State Constitution to recommend constitutional reforms to make the court system more efficient and accessible.
“For more than 35 years, the New York State Bar Association has consistently supported efforts to reorganize the court system and reduce or eliminate the complex system’s unnecessary costs, undue inefficiencies and confusion,” Gerstman said.
About the New York State Bar Association
Since 1876, the New York State Bar Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Christina Couto
Editor, State Bar News