Bar Association revives court reorganization

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It’s not as sexy as casinos, but there is more than one push for a constitutional amendment in Albany.

The state Bar Association and other groups are urging lawmakers to simplify New York’s multitiered court system. Activists would like a two-tiered system that streamlines cases not only for judges and lawyers but clients, too – especially families.

The Bar Association notes that under the current system, a family undergoing a divorce could face proceedings in three venues: Supreme Court for marital separation, Family Court for child custody and County Court for orders of protection.

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“The labyrinth of overlapping jurisdictions of multiple courts creates unnecessary financial burdens and delays for millions of litigants,” Bar Association president Vincent Doyle said in a statement. “It needs to be changed.”

Judith Kaye, New York’s former chief judge, had made court reorganization a high priority but could never get buy-in from state lawmakers.

To amend the state constitution to reorganize the courts, lawmakers would have to approve it twice (in separate years) and voters then would have to approve it in a statewide referendum. There has been very little buzz about the issue this legislative session.

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