Nineteen Supreme Court Justices Return

By Christian Nolan

Nineteen Supreme Court Justices Return

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Good evening Members,

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, during her weekly coronavirus update today, said that 19 certificated Supreme Court justices have returned following last year’s controversial decision to deny the certification applications of 46 Supreme Court justices for budgetary reasons. The denial led to a high-profile lawsuit.

In April, DiFiore announced that the new state budget would allow the court system to bring back the justices. Judges can apply for certification once they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70, which, if approved, would allow them to remain on the bench for three two-year terms until the age of 76.

“We are pleased and delighted to have these seasoned jurists back in their courthouses, doing what they do best: using their experience and skills to resolve cases and deliver fair and timely justice to the lawyers and litigants appearing in our courts,” said DiFiore.

DiFiore said June 15 was the justices first day back and that they wasted no time in making their presence felt by immediately trying cases, presiding over calendars, hearing motions and conferencing matters. Many of the returning judges also participated in two days of training last week to prepare for the assignment of selected Family Court matters to their dockets. DiFiore expects their contributions will help address the backlogs and increased demand for services in the Family Court.

“While the certification process was long and tortuous for all involved, we are greatly relieved that the judiciary’s fiscal circumstances have not only changed, but have improved to the point where we can welcome back these experienced and dedicated justices to help our court system resume the great progress we were making under the banner of the Excellence Initiative before the pandemic struck,” said DiFiore. “As we move forward into what we are certain will be a new and better normal for the courts, we will be counting on our returning Supreme Court justices to help us meet the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Uniform Rules Comment Deadline Nears

Significant concerns have been expressed by members of the New York State Bar Association about the thirty Commercial Division rules that were incorporated into the “Uniform Rules for the Supreme Court and the County Court” effective Feb. 1, 2021. Changes include limiting interrogatories, limiting the number and duration of depositions, imposing additional requirements for the initiation of and opposition to motions for summary judgment, and electronic bookmarking of submitted papers. Past NYSBA President Vincent E. Doyle III prepared an analysis of changes to the rules.

Based upon the concerns expressed by members, the House of Delegates adopted a resolution urging a stay of the rules for one year and an opportunity for NYSBA to comment on the rules. In April, then-NYSBA President Scott M. Karson reached out to the Office of Court Administration to request the stay and formed a Uniform Rules Committee to undertake NYSBA’s review and comment on the rules.

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks indicated that the Administrative Board would consider the association’s request for a pause in the enforcement of the new rules pending the outcome of a review and comment period. NYSBA provided four public forums on May 13 and 14, which are available to view at this link: https://nysba.org/nysba-hearing-forums-on-uniform-rules-recordings-available/.

The Uniform Rules Committee has prepared a preliminary informational report of their findings. This informational report was presented at the June 12, 2021 meeting of the House of Delegates and is available at this link: https://nysba.org/app/uploads/2021/06/Uniform-Rules-Task-Force-June-2021-with-appendices.pdf.

In preparation for a final report to the House of Delegates, the Uniform Rules Committee invites both members and non-members to submit written comments concerning the recent changes to the Uniform Rules. Comments may be sent to [email protected] by July 1, 2021.

Upcoming CLE Webinars

Wednesday, June 23 – Post-COVID Client Care: A New Look at Client Service Practices or Techniques.

Wednesday, June 23 – Fundamentals of Construction Contracts & Litigation.

Thursday, June 24 – Managing Partner and General Counsel Diversity Solutions.

Monday, June 28 – Litigating Under the Child Victims Act: Sexual Abuse Cases.

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