Albany, NY – Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, was joined by 23 colleagues in a formal letter to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore opposing recently announced cuts from the Office of Court Administration. OCA is terminating forty-six Supreme Court Justices in New York State at the end of the year by declining to recertify most of the sitting Justices over the age of 70. Eight of these Justices scheduled for termination serve in Bronx County and six each in Queens and New York Counties. New York City suburban counties were also heavily impacted by the cuts.
The Office of Court Administration has previously indicated that the cuts are necessary to meet a budget reduction imposed due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, while Assemblyman Dinowitz has advocated for a delay in these budgetary decisions until after state and federal electoral results have been determined after November 3.
New York State has a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices of 70 years, but Justices are allowed to apply for up to three two-year extensions. The Office of Court Administration has typically approved or disapproved these extension requests on a case-by-case basis based on mental fitness evaluations.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Judiciary, said: “The methodology that OCA has selected to implement these cuts is analogous to doing surgery with a kitchen knife. Places like the Bronx have already been struggling with case backlogs, and the disproportionate loss of judges will only exacerbate the delays that New Yorkers experience in our justice system. OCA should wait until they know what the budgetary landscape looks like for 2021 before making any budgetary decisions. This includes any potential federal aid or additional state revenues. Furthermore, whatever decisions are made need to take into account Judiciary need – not convenience. I urge OCA to recertify these Justices so they can continue to serve the needs of New Yorkers, and I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort to ensure New Yorkers have reliable and timely access to justice for years to come.”
The full letter can be viewed here.