By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York State Coalition for More Family Court Judges, a coalition of more than 80 organizations from across the state, including the Brooklyn Defender Services and the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, was in the state Capitol Wednesday, advocating for more resources for Family Court, including at least 20 more Family Court Judges statewide.
“I think it is a priority to create new Family Court judgeships,” said New York State Senator John Bonacic (R-Mt. Hope), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Family Courts are on overload, and this has a negative impact of families, particularly children. It is time we provide Family Courts with some long overdue relief.”
According to a report conducted by Modern Courts—an independent, statewide court reform organization committed to improving the judicial system—more than 700,000 cases are filed annually in statewide Family Courts, and only 153 Family Court Judges are available to hear those cases.
While, over the past 30 years, new statutory mandates have been imposed and Family Court caseloads have continued to grow (filings increased 90 percent) only four new Family Court judgeships have been added in counties outside New York City since 1998 (the last new Family Court judgeship was created in 2005 in Orange County). No new judgeships have been added for New York City since 1991.
"Family Courts are in crisis, and it is high time to bring some measure of relief to these courts and the litigants appearing in them,” said Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein (D-Southeast Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights/Downtown) has also lent his support to the increase of Family Court judgeships. “The New York State Family Court system needs resources to protect New York’s most vulnerable children and domestic violence victims, and it is time that these resources are provided. For the well-being of vulnerable families throughout New York, we need more family court judges, and we need them now. I thank the NYS Coalition for More Family Court Judges for the important work they are doing and join them in their call,” said Levin, who chairs the General Welfare Committee.