Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bill to add Family Court judges set for vote; but Monroe would have to wait

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 2:51 PM

It's the final scheduled day of the State Legislature session, and the Assembly and Senate have long lists of bills to plow through. And each chamber's agenda includes legislation to add Family Court judges in some New York counties.

But the matching bills are a little different than the proposal introduced by Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Helene Weinstein. That legislation would have given Monroe County an additional judge in 2015; Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Erie, Nassau, Oneida, Oswego, Schenectady, Suffolk, and Westchester counties would also have received one additional judge each, while New York City would have received nine new judges.

The final legislation adds judges in more counties, but breaks the additions into two waves:
  • In 2015, Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Franklin, Nassau, Oneida, Oswego, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester counties will each receive one new judge. New York City will still receive nine new judges;
  • In 2016, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, and Warren counties would each receive one additional judge.
In other words, Monroe County would still get an additional judge, just not until 2016. Voters won't choose that judge until the 2015 elections.

When the Legislature approved the 2014-15 state budget, it included $5 million to add 20 new family court judges in 2015. It'll have to include funding for all 25 new positions in next year's budget. 

For decades, New York's Family Courts have been coping with growing caseloads. The courts handle a range of matters, including domestic violence, child custody, child abuse and neglect, adoptions, and juvenile delinquency.

Between 2003 and 2013, Monroe County Family Court saw a 6 percent increase in annual petition filings. But the last time the court received an additional judge was in 2000.

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