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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Governor's Future Hinges on Chief Judge Pick

•Chief Judge Kaye, 70, will depart the bench on Dec. 31 due to the court's mandatory retirement rule.
•The Commission on Judicial Nomination must give Governor David A. Paterson a list of seven names on Dec. 1 from which he must nominate the next chief judge, subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.

Kaye Looks Forward in Final Address
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - November 13, 2008

Judith S. Kaye acknowledged yesterday in her final State of the Judiciary address as chief judge that her successor will inherit serious challenges for the judiciary, many of them related to the legal fallout from the "flailing" economy. One problem the court system is beginning to identify is a serious shortage of available legal services and credit counseling that homeowners with subprime mortgages need in order to make meaningful state-mandated conferences with lenders to avoid foreclosure, the chief judge said. "The insight that we've come to realize is that we've got to get help for these people," she said. "Just mandating a conference doesn't do it." Chief Judge Kaye delivered her last State of the Judiciary nine months later than has been her custom. She said she put off her remarks in February to demonstrate the frustration within the judiciary over the failure of lawmakers and governor to grant state judges their first pay raise since 1999. And the chief judge also broke with tradition by speaking to a near-capacity crowd at a performing arts center at New York University instead of Court of Appeals Hall in Albany.

Chief Judge Kaye, 70, will depart the bench on Dec. 31 due to the court's mandatory retirement rule. She has been on the Court for 25 years, 15 in its center seat. "There can be no doubt that I have had the role of a lifetime, a privilege beyond description to labor in the cause of justice alongside the greatest people on Earth," she told a crowd of judges, attorneys, academics and students. The chief judge said she would not dwell on the pay raise situation, over which she has sued the Legislature and governor. But she said it is "heartbreaking, frustrating and demoralizing beyond description" that judges have gone nearly a decade without a raise. She praised the judiciary for continuing to do its job in the face of rising dockets and despite being "deeply pained personally and individually" by the pay situation.

Chief Judge Kaye said it is becoming apparent that a new state law mandating pre-foreclosure conferences for those facing the loss of their homes will not provide the desired relief from foreclosure unless borrowers get informed credit counseling and legal help beforehand. The holders of high-cost, subprime mortgages on one- to four-family dwellings can request a pre-foreclosure conference with lenders under a new state law that went into effect Sept. 1. Also under that statute, no foreclosures can be filed for 90 days starting Sept. 1. The most likely source of the legal help for homeowners facing foreclosure, given the poor economy and the state's difficult finances, will have to come pro bono, Chief Judge Kaye told reporters after her speech. "So we're at that next juncture where we've been meeting with the bar and just exploring ways to get the kind of help that these people need," she said. "The conference is great . . . but they should be meaningful court conferences." The last time the bar was asked to respond pro bono to a major legal crisis was after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the chief judge said big law firms "opened their doors and there was an outpouring of free legal services for people in need." "Probably the same thing is going to happen, but it has not yet happened," Chief Judge Kaye said after her speech.

She said one problem court administrators are finding is that firms that might be expected to provide pro bono help to homeowners find themselves conflicted in some cases because many also represent banks writing the mortgages. A call for comment to Bernice Leber, president of the New York State Bar Association, was not immediately returned yesterday. So far, the court system has sent out notices to 25,000 homeowners facing possible foreclosure informing them they are eligible for a pre-foreclosure conference. Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau said yesterday that about 100 requests have come back for conferences, with many more expected. Earlier this year, the Court system instituted a pre-foreclosure conference system in Queens for owners of one- to four-family homes regardless of whether their mortgages were subprime or carried more traditional rates. Judge Pfau said about 90 percent of the homeowners in Queens facing foreclosure have defaulted on their mortgages, indicating that more in terms of legal representation and counseling for homeowners is needed to help them avoid losing their homes. Chief Judge Kaye also warned yesterday that the 1.8 million filings in civil courts are sure to soar due to the sour economy. "All caseloads, I just know, are going to mushroom given the state of our economy," she said.

Family Court, Green Courts - Also in yesterday's speech, Chief Judge Kaye:

• Thanked the three administrative judges that served under her during her record-long tenure as chief judge, E. Leo Milonas, Justice Jonathan Lippman and Judge Pfau. She said after the address she considered not naming Judge Lippman for fear she would be seen as endorsing his candidacy to replace her. "You know, I did think about not mentioning him at all because of the situation, but wouldn't that have been absurd after more than 12 years as the chief administrative judge, part of every single one of the initiatives, not to say a special thank you?" she said. "I thought that was human decency." Justice Lippman has applied to the Commission on Judicial Nomination to be the next chief judge, as have three current associate judges on the Court of Appeals: Judges Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, Eugene F. Pigott Jr. and Theodore T. Jones Jr. The commission must give Governor David A. Paterson a list of seven names on Dec. 1 from which he must nominate the next chief judge, subject to confirmation by the state Senate. Chief Judge Kaye also lauded Fern Fisher, administrative judge for the Civil Court of New York City, for Housing Court improvements. Judge Fisher also has acknowledged applying to the commission to become the next chief judge.
• Said the judiciary should renew efforts to expand the number of Family Court judges due to continuing high caseloads. New case filings exceeded 700,000 in 2007 and are on track to number about 728,000 in 2008, according to the chief judge. "I personally have never before seen such burdens placed on Family Court, emotional burdens and calendar burdens, typically necessitating long court days and long court delays - delays that in child time are an eternity," the chief judge said. "No fair to the litigants, no fair to the courts." There are 149 full-time Family Court judges, 47 in New York City. The chief judge said the need for more judges in the city is particularly dire. A deal appeared to be close in the Legislature to create 39 new Family Court judgeships this spring, 14 in New York City, but momentum disappeared when Mr. Paterson began to warn of the looming economic storm (NYLJ, July 11). The Office of Court Administration generally estimates that it costs $1 million to create a new state court judgeship, with the cost tending to come down after new judges have established their chambers and their staffs. Separately from advocating for more Family Court judges, Chief Judge Kaye announced yesterday that the judiciary is working with New York City agencies and providers of counsel to parents and children in a new initiative to fast-track the handling of child welfare proceedings in the city. "Our joint objective, our fervent hope and belief, is that these measures will accelerate the time to disposition and early permanency for children," the chief judge said.
•Announced the release of what she called the first environmental plan for a judicial system "in the nation, the world, the universe." It contains initiatives such as expanding electronic filing of documents to reduce the use of paper, expanding video conferencing for routine court matters and retrofitting court facilities to save energy and water. Joel.Stashenko@incisivemedia.com

16 comments:

a very unhappy, retired attorney said...

Dearest Judith Kaye,

You had such great promise, but your blindness and miserable failings have cost needless, immeasurable hurt and pain to so many. It's quite sad. Everyone agrees that the destruction of our state system of law and order, or any respect for it, will take years to recover.

Indeed, if Governor Paterson appoints a political hack to replace you and continue your well-established acts void of justice, I will immediately come out of retirement and actively campaign against him in the next election.

union and pissed said...

I agree with the prior comment. If the Governor wants Lippman then he may as well leave Kaye. And I too will go against Paterson, and I'll get 20,000 union members to join me!

count me in said...

Count me in. I love our Governor. But he further disgraces our system of law by appointing someone who will continue the unlawful horror that is OCA, I will go COMPLETELY against him!

Anonymous said...

The stench from Kaye will take long to dissipate. Lippman is more of the same. Paterson could take the bold choice to defoul the system. Cuomo has already failed.

Anonymous said...

Lippman is a bad idea.
He is a joke already.
Promoting someone that is a joke would only reinforce the problems and failures in the courts.
The city has 28% Hispanic
26% African American
10% Asian
Lets have a minority for chief Judge.
Someone that is not an insider.
Paterson might think that because he several years before his election that he could get away with it. That is not a good idea.
If he wants to be fair pick an outsider that is a minority.
In the end a bad choice will cause Paterson to losse votes when he runs for Gov.

Anonymous said...

what Paterson should do is ask judge Lopez from brokklyn to be chief judge.

Anonymous said...

but isn't the problem that the Name Paterson picks has to come from the Nominating Committee?

and isn't the Committee stacked with the Institutional Political Lawyers and types that have been around for years who already have established law firm relationships? and Paterson has had virtually no time to do anything about this Nominating Committee?

can Paterson abolish the current Commission by Executive Order under some special powers such as the corruption powers that lead to the Troopergate inquiry where he appointed cuomo?

then maybe he could ensure that the pick is not an Inside Deal pick right?

Anonymous said...

A big part of the Sad, False, Misleading JOKE, Disgusting JOKE about Kaye's Statement is her statement about Family Courts.

In the Upstate Rural County up here that has an extraordinary High Rate of Foster Care and Medicaid Expenditures when compared to All surrounding counties and all counties in the State is that County DSS Workers and Supervisors have been Heard to Say to others that "We need to Round up some Families for Family Courts since the Rolls are down" and within 24 Hours 15 New Cases.

Because of the Statewide Corruption and Statewide Do Nothing Offices and Do Nothing folks in the federal offices NO ONE has bothered to Follow Up on Many of these issues so NO ONE KNOWS the REAL DEAL in Albany.

This is EXACTLY WHY there should be NO Judicial Payraise and NO OCA Hikes and Nothing Until Complete Audits of all the Judicial Offices and Cases and more and if it takes the next 4 years to complete the Audits, so be it and the Judges will have to wait for their raises.


These are just a few of the many reasons why Kayes's statement is out of touch. She probably has no clue herself how many County Family Courts teamed up with the DSS agencies and groups like Berkshire Farms and Northeast Parents Associations to BOOST the Numbers so they can Keep the Money flowing. Time to Stop ALL of that now and disregard that portion of Kaye's staement in its entirety.

Margarita Lopez Torres for our next Chief Judge said...

Governor David Paterson has to ask Judge Margarita Lopez Torres for the position of Chief Judge..She's the only one that could correct the current problem that's running rampant throughout the legal and judicial system.

Anonymous said...

What if her Name is NOT provided to Paterson by the Nominating Commission?? Does not answer the problems raised above.

Anonymous said...

Constitutional procedure is public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS
We must lobby the commission members and/or Paterson can put political pressure on some of them to put her name in consideration. Governors can and have done this before. Paterson needs to make this a priority.

Judge Margarita Lopez for our next Chief Judge said...

To the above anonymous writer..I believe (Judge Margarita Lopez Torres) name has already been provided to Gov. Paterson.

Anonymous said...

I contacted Judge Lippman at a time when Judges in Suffolk County were actively violating the rules.. Sad to say, he did nothing to prevent the theft...

Anonymous said...

Judy Kaye has pending civil rights violations against her in federal court, with side accusations of criminal misconduct.

This litigation has mutiple charges and involves several of her judges and employees.
Kaye has condoned threats to employees who wished to testify for the plaintiff, threatening their own jobs, has condoned violence to impede the filing and progress of the federal court action and stalled for years, the requests for discovery!

While all of this is pending with her full knowledge and complicity, she filed a lawsuit requesting her and the remainder of judges in NY STATE... receive a pay raise?!

She has the audacity to be stunned and disgusted that her suit has not been honored immediately and won't be enforced, even knowing she and others are being sued, for multiple violations of the federal civil and criminal laws of this country.

It appears to me that Kaye et al, have utilized the defense mechanism, that many of THE NY COURTS'S criminal elements have embraced for years...compartmentalizing of their evil, to pretend that their lives are actually upstanding!

Kaye can have many more gatherings of people who want to state that she is and was the best chief judge ever in NY STATE, but I will always be there to remind her and the world, that she is discriminatory, flaunts criminal tendencies, and is more than a willing participant in mob related tactics, all to benefit her and her false reputation as a figure of justice and fairness to the citizens of this state!

Good luck Kaye with your life, because as you have ruined many other lives, I am certain that you will come to know that exact same condition!

Anonymous said...

Kaye is a rat and likes to cover up for corrupt judges and attorneys like her incluidng those involved in child porn.

Anonymous said...

Lippman is no joke. He is a dangerous criminal who will spend his golden years rotting in a prison cell.

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