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Creating a Fifth Judicial Department

The City Bar supports proposals that would establish a fifth judicial department as a means to reduce the workload of the Second Department. The Second Department now encompasses approximately 50% of the state’s population and decides approximately 42% of all statewide appeals filed.

For many years the Second Department has decided more appeals than the Third and Fourth Departments combined. In order to handle the increased workload, the Second Department was forced to reduce the size of its appellate panels from five to four justices and the number of judges authorized for that court has been fixed at twenty-two. Unfortunately, this necessary dispersal of judicial resources has reduced the consistency of the Department’s opinions and has resulted in a court that may be too large to yield a coherent body of precedent.

The City Bar supports initiatives that would preserve the Legislature’s authority to determine the boundaries of the new fifth department, but also supports proposals that would authorize the Chief Administrative Judge to make such a determination if the Legislature fails to set those boundaries within a reasonable amount of time.