STATE BAR RECOMMENDS MORE JUDGES, ADDITIONAL
IMPROVED REPRESENTATION FOR FAMILY COURT
A major study released today by the New York State Bar Association
urged greater support for Family Courts, calling for more judges and
resources to handle cases of child support, neglect and abuse, foster
care and other family issues.
The findings of the comprehensive two-year study are included in a
198-page report approved by the Association’s House of Delegates
on January 25.
“The lack of judges to hear the overwhelming number of cases
involving the safety and well-being of children results in long delays,
piecemeal trials, uneven access to justice and a public perception that
the forum is ineffectual and unworthy of community confidence,”
the report states.
The study found that it can take months and even years to resolve
some cases involving children. It pointed to an inadequate number of
Family Court judges and staff to handle a burgeoning caseload that has
led to overcrowded dockets, confusion and frustration for litigants,
delays and multiple adjournments.
“With overcrowded dockets, too few judges, and far too many
delays, these courts resemble hospital emergency rooms and our family
law attorneys are forced to perform triage,” the report
Many families appear in Family Court without attorneys and must
negotiate a complex court system without adequate help. A survey of 95
litigants about their experiences in Family Court in four counties
(Queens, Wayne, Monroe and Saratoga) found that more than three-quarters
were not represented by attorneys. Mediation programs that could resolve
many matters without courtroom intervention are not being used to the
fullest extent possible.
The report’s 26 recommendations include authorizing more
judges, expanding the use of mediation, along with the expanded use of
video technology and e-filing to improve efficiency, and increased
funding for longer court hours, training, security and facility
“The shortage of judges can no longer be ignored,” said
State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New
York City). “We recognize the economic challenges facing the
state. We also recognize the irreparable harm to children and families
when the Family Court system is crippled by insufficient staff and