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With the clock winding down, legal groups are wondering if state legislators will deliver on a promise to add 20 new Family Court judges around the state to tackle increasing caseloads.
To recap, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature included language in the state budget, adopted March 31, to create 20 new judgeships. Problem was, they didn’t designate which counties would get the new jurists.
Nearly two months later, they still haven’t decided -- even though Thursday marked the day would-be judicial candidates could start collecting petition signatures to get on the ballot. The deadline for turning in petitions is July 10.
“With each passing day, there is less time for qualified candidates to obtain a position on the ballot,” New York State Bar Association president David Schraver said in a letter to lawmakers.
Assembly Judiciary Committee chairwoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) has introduced a bill that would locate nine of the new judgeships in New York City and spread the rest among major counties. Nassau and Suffolk counties would get one each.
But there is no companion bill in the politically-split Senate -- signaling legislators aren’t close to an agreement. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year on June 19 -- the two houses would have to pass a bill by then siting the new judgeships in order to get them on the November ballot.
If the Legislature waits till the end to agree on sites, it could effectively negate the chances of a would-be judge of garnering enough petitions by the July deadline. In that case, county chairmen could be in control of the ballot process: they would be able to designate candidates themselves.