New York City Bar Association Supports State Judiciary’s 2017-2018 Budget Request

The New York City Bar Association has issued a report urging New York State’s Legislature to accept the Judiciary’s 2017-2018 Budget Request in its entirety.

This year’s proposed budget is $2.18 billion, an increase of $42.7 million, 2.0% over last year’s budget. Funds would be used to increase court clerk, officer, interpreter and reporter staffs by 200 employees, increase Small Claims Court hours, decrease the lag between filing and first court appearance, improve ADR services, increase support for Special Advocates for at-risk children and provide for capital improvements – primarily new computer software for the courts’ data management and computer network systems, which will enable the Judiciary to improve services with fewer staff positions. The Judiciary Budget Request also includes funds for civil legal services to help ensure equal access to justice for low-income New Yorkers facing housing, consumer debt and other legal problems pertaining to the essentials of life.

The City Bar’s Council on Judicial Administration, which reviewed the proposed budget for the report, put the current budget request in context: in 2011-12, $170 million was cut from the prior year’s budget, ultimately resulting in a loss of 2,000 staff positions in the court system. In the next two years, there were zero increases to the budget. In 2014-15 and 2015-16 increases of 2.5% were granted, and last year, there was an increase of 2.4%. Since 2009-10, the annual budget has been increased $120 million (avg. 0.9% per year), which is less than the amount cut in 2011.

“Despite these cuts, and through remarkably difficult times, coping with reduced resources over the past few years, the Judiciary has made necessary adjustments, maintained the high level of justice that the State of New York and its citizens, and the people who litigate or are prosecuted in our courts, deserve and expect, and is now seeing measurable improvements in the quality of its judicial services,” states the report. According to the report, the number of older cases still pending statewide has declined, as has the backlog affecting more recent cases. In 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the average age of a civil case in Supreme Court statewide declined to 564 days, about where it was before the 2011 budget cuts. In New York City, the average age of a civil case in Supreme Court declined to 806 days, also about where it was in 2009-10.

The City Bar applauds the Governor and the Legislature, as well as the Judiciary leadership for their “work in getting us through the financial crisis and putting us on a track toward a more efficient and productive judicial system,” states the report. “This year’s budget is key to the continuation of that progress and the City Bar urges the Legislature to adopt it without change.”

The report can be read here:

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association, since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the legal profession, promoting reform of the law and access to justice, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association, through its 24,000 members, continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.