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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Report: NYS Court System in Sad Crisis, Desperate

Judicial Reassignments Urged To Address Family Court 'Crisis'
The New York Law Journal by Mark Fass - April 27, 2009

A report released today by the Fund for Modern Courts calls for reassigning to Family Court more judges from other courts and appointing a new statewide deputy chief administrative judge in order to address what it calls a "crisis" in Family Court's resources and procedures. "The lack of adequate resources in New York State's Family Court presents a most difficult task for the judiciary, but it is a challenge that needs to be met," the non-partisan organization's chairman, Victor A. Kovner, said in a statement accompanying the 22-page report. "Family Court is the saddest consequence of a poorly designed court system that is in desperate need of restructuring." The report, entitled "Crisis in Family Court - A Call for Action," was initiated last summer in order to brief the successor to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, who retired after 15 years in the post.

Jonathan Lippman, who was confirmed as the new chief judge in February, received an advance copy of the report earlier this month. In an interview Friday, Chief Judge Lippman repeatedly emphasized his "full support" for the task force's findings and recommendations. He also stressed the "enormous strides" Family Court has made over the last decade, including progress in such areas as adoption, protective proceedings, treatment courts and achieving "one family, one judge." "The biggest infusion to the court system has been to Family Court," Judge Lippman said. The Office of Court Administration intends to continue reassigning judges from other courts to Family Court, Judge Lippman added. An OCA spokesman said such reassignments have resulted in a net increase of nine judges over the last several years. "But you're robbing Peter to pay Paul," the chief judge said. "It would be far better to be able to get what the court [system] needs, and we're going to press that case with the Legislature." There currently are 149 permanent Family Court judges statewide. The court system last year unsuccessfully sought 39 additional judgeships. Judge Lippman said his one "quibble" with the recommendations - whether to appoint a new administrative judge - was simply a disagreement over "nomenclature."

In the next few weeks, the OCA will announce a reorganization involving a "statewide leadership team," which will serve the same purpose without adding a "new layer of administration," the chief judge said. "A title is only part of the equation," Judge Lippman said. The OCA reorganization will be "consistent with the recommendations, [but] we'll be cutting down on the administration. These times demand it." Judge Lippman also called the question of whether the Family Court is in "crisis" an issue of semantics. "It's a court that demands attention," Judge Lippman said. "I agree totally with that characterization. Whether one would call it 'in crisis' is another issue. I accept the call for attention to the Family Court." The Fund for Modern Courts appointed the eight-person task force last summer. Over the next four months, the members interviewed more than 35 judges, attorneys and public policy advocates, among others. The task force also held two focus groups: one upstate and one in Manhattan. Attorneys from Davis Polk & Wardwell also participated in the interviews, provided research and created an appendix of relevant past Family Court reports.

'Call for Action'

Citing such disparate, ongoing and intertwined problems as overwhelming case loads, unmanageable calendars and burdensome administrative responsibilities, the task force concluded that the Family Court is facing a "crisis," and termed the report a "call for action." Family Court judges average 2,120 dispositions a year, the task force reported, compared to 525 for Supreme Court judges in civil matters, 222 for Supreme and County Court judges in felony matters and 63 for Court of Claims judges. "As a result of the unrealistically large caseload in Family Court coupled with the lack of sufficient judges, court calendars are often unmanageable," the report states.  It continues: "The Task Force fully understands that facing the ongoing crisis and emergency now present in the New York State Family Courts presents a most difficult task, but it is a challenge that needs to be met. This is especially true while we are facing unprecedented negative economic conditions that will most certainly further flood the already inadequate resources of Family Court." The task force broke its recommendations into six general areas: administrative leadership, judicial resources, case and courtroom management, judicial education and support, resources for litigants and incorporating the best use of technology. In addition to appointing a statewide deputy chief administrative judge for Family Court, specific recommendations include:

•reassigning more judges from Supreme, Civil and Criminal court to Family Court;
•proving case coordinators to review cases;
•assigning "up-front judges" to hear preliminary matters;
•establishing self-help centers;
•implementing a comprehensive data-collection.

The task force has already met with Judge Lippman, and both sides said on Friday that they concur on all the key points, including the need for administrative reform and oversight. The task force's chair, Catherine J. Douglass, said, "I personally have no reason to second guess [Judge Lippman's] way of getting the job done. The real point is that this is an enormous job and that it needs the requisite focus and skills and plan, however the chief judge decides to make it happen." Mr. Kovner, Modern Courts' chair, said the organization's attention will now return to a number of its other, long-term goals, such as judicial pay and court restructuring. "We're hoping for the adoption of the (judicial compensation) legislation," Mr. Kovner said. "Also on our agenda is a constitutional amendment for court restructuring, [including] a Family Court merger (within a single Supreme Court). It's a cost saver. It's something we've been pushing. But the failure to deal with judicial compensation stops so many other things."


Anonymous said...

Apparently this Report does not take into consideration the counties surrounding the Albany area like Columbia, Dutchess and others where Family court Cases are Artificially Manufactured to Increase the Amount of time the Cases are on the Docket, where DSS workers are told the "rolls are down" so get "recruit" more families for Family Court, the Detention Centers and medicaid rolls. Will be interesting to see if these types of actions occur in the other Family Courts around the States. In some of these courts like Columbia County, you can file your proof that your client completed whatever "requirement" was imposed like an Evaluation say 4, 5, 6 times over, file in Open court, file by mail, file in person the proof of completion, and still be told you had not done it at all. How does this Report account for these types of activities in the Family Courts of the State?

Anonymous said...

What a joke. I just wasted my time reading this report. THe ENTIRE system needs an overhaul. period.

galison said...

This blog is beginning to resemble a PR organ for Jon Lippman. Frank, if we want to read the New York Law Journal BS, we can subscribe for a few bucks a year. How about a little critical thinking from the "administrator(s)" of this blog.

Frank, why wasn't this article posted?

You should be proud of your colleagues and you should support us when we make headway.

Between censoring our comments (and fibbing about "law enforcement" contacting you), ignoring important articles and posting accolades about Lippman, this blog has taken a very strange turn indeed.

You know as well as anyone that anything with Lippman's prints on it is a scam and scheme. The man is a lowlife criminal whose actions will destroy this city and this nation for our children.

Until Lippman arrests Alan Friedberg and Temeckjian, (and himself), he is a menace to us all.


Anonymous said...

When will they fire Judge Linda Christopher,an incompetent Man hater who destroys children and families
in the process,with no regard for the rule of law.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in the Family Court System knows the following facts: (1) The New York Administration for Childrens' Services ("ACS") works closely with the international child pornography industry (intermingled with the international fashion business/reality television show business/homosexual rights business) and supplies these child pornographers and sex abusers with a steady supply of neglected kids; (2) ACS and Child Protective Services ("CPS") working with the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") then covers up instances of child abuse all over New York City and the world, with the help and assistance of corrupt Family Court Judges of OCA, and Law Guardians employed by the New York Legal Aid Society; (3) the multi-billion dollar international child sex and child porn industry is based and headquartered in New York City, and there are more child molesters, homosexual child predators, and child sexual abusers within the New York Family Court System then in any court system in the world - why else would anyone work for $25,000 a year to be around little kids, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; (4) the number of child sexual offenders working within the New York Family Court System is currently epidemic, and they completely and totally dominate the New York Family Court system to keep protective parents away from being able to protect their own kids - it is worse than the Catholic Vatican System ever was.

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