New York Judiciary Faces $300 Million Budget Cut Print PDF
On September 29, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced a $300 million cut to the Judiciary’s budget. According to Judge Marks, “the next fiscal year will be as difficult, if not more difficult, than this year.” In a memorandum to the Judiciary, Judge Marks revealed that Governor Cuomo has exercised his emergency powers to cut the Judiciary’s budget by 10%, and provided a brief outline of some of the “painful measures” that the Court is taking to address the budget cuts. Specifically, the Judiciary is implementing a budget freeze, eliminating all non-personal services spending, and deferring substantial payments owed to the next fiscal year. Judge Marks also expressed concern that the courts may have to engage in employee layoffs, although there are no immediate plans to do so.
Perhaps the largest single cut – which will also likely have the largest impact on litigants – is the decision not to approve certifications or re-certifications for the majority of judges whose certifications are due January 1, 2021. This move will save the Judiciary $55 million over the next two years. The New York Post reported that this decision will result in the removal from the bench of 46 currently sitting judges over the age of 70. These judges would have been appointed for a two year period.
This is the first time the Judiciary’s budget has been reduced since the 2011-2012 budget year, when the cut was $170 million. The 2011 budget cuts, combined with the inundation of mortgage servicing litigation from the 2008 housing crisis, led to backlogs in the courts lasting for years. The Court’s difficult decision to allow judge’s certifications to lapse, along with the other measures being taken, will again undoubtedly impact court proceedings. Litigants and attorneys can again fairly expect lengthy wait times for court hearings and court decisions in 2021 and beyond.
Judge Marks’ September 29, 2020 memo can be found here.