The policy-setting body of the New York State Bar Association endorsed a plan on Jan. 25 to help relieve Family Courts caseloads by creating a new category of Court of Claims judges who would be assigned to high-volume Family Court benches.
The chair of a taskforce that has been working for two years to find ways to alleviate stresses on Family Court said that while the numbers of judges must increase, the courts could ease the burden by administratively assigning more judicial hearing officers, court attorneys, and referees and support magistrates.
The New York State Bar's House of Delegates meets on Jan. 25 at the Hilton New York. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
The House of Delegates approved the Family Court report near the close of the state bar's annual meeting last week at the Hilton New York.
The house also approved a resolution calling on the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to severely restrict instances where prisoners spend more than 15 consecutive days in solitary confinement based on the psychological damage associated with extended isolation, and it endorsed a taskforce's recommendations on improving the number of New Yorkers who vote.
The House of Delegates also elected Glenn Lau-Kee, a partner at Kee & Lau-Kee in Manhattan, as the bar group's president. He is in line to become the first Asian-American president in the state bar's 137-year history on June 1, 2014.
David Schraver, the current president-elect, will succeed Seymour James Jr. as president on June 1. Schraver is with Nixon Peabody in Rochester and James is attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice of the New York City Legal Aid Society.
The Family Court taskforce was chaired by Susan Lindenauer, retired general counsel for the Legal Aid Society, and Family Court Judge Mary Rita Connerton in Broome County (See Profile).
Its top recommendation was the creation of more judgeships to deal with Family Court caseloads that have grown to nearly 750,000 a year from 683,000 in 2001, in part because of new state and federal mandates imposed on the courts.
At the same time, the taskforce noted, the number of authorized Family Court judges in New York City has remained constant at 47, though Civil, Criminal and Supreme Court justices can be designated to handle Family Court matters.