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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hotelier Lippman and Pfau Continue The Injustice

'Painful But Unavoidable:' Courts Trim Jobs
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko  -  May 19, 2011

Leaving 367 Positions Vacant Will Make Delays Inevitable, Administrators Say

ALBANY, NY - New York court administrators laid off 367 nonjudicial employees yesterday to comply with state budget cuts ordered by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature.  Starting June 1, the positions of that many court clerks and assistants, court officers of all ranks, analysts, librarians, aides, stenographers, family counseling case analysts, court reporters and attorneys and other support staff will be vacated. And the bulk of the jobs will remain empty as the Judiciary grapples with a $170 million cut in its $2.7 billion budget.  Of the cuts announced yesterday, 343 were in the state's numerous trial courts and 24 in the appellate courts. They are in addition to 74 positions eliminated at the Office of Court Administration earlier this month.  The new layoffs represent 2.4 percent of the courts' 15,326 employees. But 1,928 law clerks, confidential secretaries and other personnel who work directly for individual judges were exempt from the cuts, meaning that 2.7 percent of the remaining workers lost their jobs.  Administrators also are eliminating the jobs of 67 full- and part-time court attendants, contract employees who provide security services in the upstate Third, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth Judicial districts.  In addition to the lost positions, the new cutbacks will set off a round of "bumping" and reassignments as hundreds of workers in targeted positions replace those with less seniority in other jobs and courts.

New York's far-flung courts handle 4.6 million new filings each year, ranging from parking tickets to murder charges. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau and other officials have suggested that the cuts no doubt will mean delays in court functions such as arraignments, obtaining court orders and trials.  "The most urgent matters, such as issuing orders of protection and things like that, they will be as unaffected as possible," Judge Pfau said in an interview. "But delays are inevitable. We are going to monitor this constantly to see what is happening as far as things are getting out. We will be watching this on a day-by-day basis to make adjustments along the way. But these are real people who did their jobs very professionally and they will not be there to do their jobs anymore."  The impact will be all the greater because the courts are still digesting the departure last November of some 1,550 in an early retirement incentive program. Administrators had planned to fill more than half of those vacancies, but froze hiring earlier this year before the process was complete as the budget outlook darkened in Albany.  "New York's position as a global financial center is put at risk if we don't sufficiently fund our court system," said Robert Giuffra Jr. a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell.  Steven R. Schlesinger of Jaspan Schlesinger in Garden City, who is in the courts at least four days a week, said the layoffs are "a major topic of discussion" among attorneys. "Everyone is nervous about the layoffs," he said.

Noting he has a Delaware office and 10 to 15 percent of his cases involve clients with Delaware-based incorporations, Mr. Schlesinger said that he might decide to take future cases to Delaware if matters in New York take longer to resolve.  With large sums hanging in the balance, with a case possibly taking three to four years in New York versus a year in Delaware, "it may be malpractice for me to file in New York," he said.  According to administrators, with the layoffs, the courts will have 1,151 fewer workers than they did in August 2010.  Lou Guariello, a clerk in the commercial division of the courts in Manhattan, said the mood was somber yesterday before employees learned who would lose their jobs.  "People are kind of quiet, waiting for what's going to come down," he said in an interview. "It's that kind of a day."  "It was highly emotional today," an employee of the Nassau County Surrogate's Court agreed in an interview. "You heard of people's mortgages, tuition and fear of the future, and how they truly enjoy working for the court system."  Sally Donahue, a court-attorney referee in the Nassau Surrogate's Court, is losing the job she has held for 4 1/2 years. She said the loss of two of her unit's six positions would mean more work for an already overloaded staff.  "They're really ripping into this law department," she said.  Judge Lippman said in a statement that the cuts are "painful but unavoidable."

"After four decades in the courts, I very much view our employees as part of a court system family that is close-knit and supportive of each other in every conceivable way," he said. "My heart goes out to every one of the valued employees and their own families who will be experiencing real hardship and pain as a result of today's layoffs. I know that all judges and court personnel share my feelings, but I also know that we will all continue to do everything in our power to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities and to provide the highest quality of service to the public."  He concluded, "The doors of our courts will remain open and accessible to all. I am confident that we will overcome the difficult challenges that lie ahead of us and emerge from this trying period stronger than ever."  In designing the cuts, officials said they took into account existing vacancies and stresses in particular courts and regions around the state. The impact of cutbacks on attorneys, litigants and the public are likely to vary from court to court.  For example, Nassau County will sustain a net loss of 30 jobs, but neighboring Suffolk County will lose only 13.  Suffolk courts, which now have about 1,000 employees, were already "hit hard" by last year's early retirement program, said Administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs. The county lost about 135 employees to retirement and already had 100 vacancies before the new cutbacks.  Judge Hinrichs said the latest cuts had been a "difficult process," adding that "all the people we're losing are very good people, outstanding people. …Our intention going forward is to do everything possible to fulfill our obligations and make the courts work as efficiently as possible under the circumstances going forward."  Nassau Administrative Judge Anthony Marano said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened" by the layoffs and warned that "longer wait times in the adjudication of certain matters may become a reality."  In the appellate courts, 10 of the 24 job losses are in the Appellate Division, First Department. Last December, the department filled 44 of the 46 positions left vacant by early retirements.  As a result, the department needed a year-end cash infusion from the Second Department, which had filled fewer of its vacancies (NYLJ, April 13). The Second Department is losing six positions in the current round of cuts.

'Horrible Domino Effect'

Although the ultimate effect of the coming layoffs on the general public remains unclear, it is certain that 367 more people will lose their jobs. However, many of those laid off will not be the same employees who now hold the jobs being left vacant. Under union contracts and Civil Service rules, employees facing layoffs often have the right to bump workers with less seniority. Officials estimate that 241 workers will be reassigned to other jobs and/or to other courts at lower pay as a result of the cutbacks. One clerk at 60 Centre St. in Manhattan said that many of his colleagues had been "rolled back to their prior positions" such as secretary, data entry clerk and court analyst.  "The clerks are the backbone of the system," he said.  Marc Ialenti of Ialenti & Macari in Mineola noted that the processing of court matters has slowed in Nassau County since the beginning of the year, and the reassignment of more court personnel to unfamiliar positions would only exacerbate the problem, and feed client frustrations.  "It's a horrible domino effect," he said.  Judges Lippman and Pfau have said that the Judiciary would work with the system's 11 unions, all of which are now working without a contract, to find cost savings that could allow the rehiring of laid off workers at a future date.  Administrators have been working for months to cut overtime and non-personnel expenses. For example, they have suspended funding for virtually all judicial hearing officers; put on hold improvements to town and village courts; trimmed the sessions of small claims courts; halved the money appropriated to provide civil legal services for the indigent; stopped buying lunches for jurors; and decreed that court sessions must end by 4:30 p.m. each day.  But none of the economies recovered enough to reach the bottom line mandated by Mr. Cuomo and the Legislature in a budget that is dominated by personnel costs.  Employees losing their positions, in general, will qualify for 46 weeks of unemployment insurance payments and also unused vacation and sick time. They will also gain priority status on a list of dismissed workers to be rehired within the next two years, if the courts can afford to.  The last time court employees faced layoffs was in late 1991 and early 1992. About 500 workers lost their jobs in a budget dispute between then-chief judge Sol Wachtler and former governor Mario M. Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo's father. However, the cuts were quickly rescinded after the executive and the judicial branch settled their differences.  With state finances in disarray, a quick reversal in this year's cuts is unlikely. In fact, they may force fundamental changes in the way the courts do business.  "This appears to be a permanent downsizing," said Judge Pfau.  Joel Stashenko can be contacted at jstashenko@alm.com. Daniel Wise, Andrew Keshner and Brendan Pierson contributed to this story.

CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORY, "NY Post EDITORIAL: Lippman's Secret Ambition to Run Luxury Hotel"

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I bet Lippman and Pfau's buddies aren't getting the axe.

no job said...

thank you lippman and pfau. rot in hell.

Anonymous said...

In 1991 the courts really did not lay off anyone that was employed for more than a yr or was political...they transferred them to different courts in a musical chairs type operation...I was there and met so many employees from surrounding courts for that yr...I made so many new friends and had lots of fun!
The issues today are really NOT dire...public...as OCA CAN easily handle the work, but the NY STATE JUDICIAL SYSTEM must start operating like it is 2011... and not 1975!
Administrators must not be political ever, as well as all of their statewide supervisors..or judges lovers...which ever you can determine.
The issue with these top level employees...who can be dumped by the dozens...is that they came in with almost no knowledge of court procedures or any legal knowledge....what's a felony, was a common question.
They are also horribly non-progressive, stagnant and lazy.
Warrants that have surpassed 30:30 time..or ability to prosceute, sit in drawers for decades and those that are prosecutable, are filed in several undefined areas or cardboard boxes...marked...."warrats' in slanted handwriting...really war rats? Computers anyone?
When these political hack chief's are asked to organize things in the central office..just so the clerks could function quicker...the hacks just made things worse..because they felt slighted by these remarks and then of course they had their juvenile entitlement $100,000 salary and NO fire status!
I could go on an tell you all about the non-functioning operations of the OCA, but it would take weeks...since I have so many yrs of it.....to bring to you...the taxpaying public.

The only problem with the layoffs and OCA pretending delays, may be the judges who sucked the taxpayers dry doing civil cases...whcih the regular judges did for yrs....but Lippman wants to prove the budget cuts are hurting you.
REALLY though, Lippman is pissed that the very powerful older judges are no longer part of the system that helps make OCA very connected and very above the law!

If Lippman ever gets to rehire anyone...watch..it will be those old judges with no lives who work there till they are 90..pushing and shoving themselves on cases they cannot no longer comprehend.
I saw all of that..so many complaints about judges with mental incapacity.

Anonymous said...

FIRE THEM ALL WHO WOULD CARE!

Anonymous said...

I have an idea open it up as a hotel. You can hire Lippman to wait on tables and Pfau to clean the rooms. It will be the first time they did a days work in thier life. What they should do is get rid of the higher up also. He could retire or if things are so bad Lippman and Pfau could take a pay cut

Anonymous said...

OCA is not only non-progressive, backwards and very HACK heavy...it is delusional about all of that.
OCA fired and also refused to hire some of the smartest and most independent progressive employees...all because they were not POLITICAL or did not desire to follow the court's questionable activities!

OCA itself is the problem that created the need for any layoffs...they just will not let anyone in the door to see and investigate and advise them about how to go lean and legal...and the media is as well to blame for allowing them to function so poorly...something I noticed many yrs from both responsible parties.

I have posted honestly and distinctly, as long as this blog has existed, about my many yrs at OCA and how really disgusting their functioning is overall, besides their overt violations of civil and criminal laws...and I mean the absolute undesired truth, often dreaded by OCA.

OCA has been making attempts to gather information against me from anonymous postings on here...believing that I am the poster...and they intend that these truthful remarks will harm me in some way...some where... at sometime. Anything to forbid the public from hearing the truth from an ethical and legal..their words..long time insider.

OCA needs to clean up and stop covering up...as the cover-ups can no longer convince computer savvy users, that my words are the wrong ones and the universally designated judgmental NY Justice system's are to be believed.....as well as existing as the cover and carpet for corruption of their unaccountable powerful political greed!

OCA...Office of Corrupt Administration.

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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