Court funding to be focus of state Bar meeting

Court funding cuts and the effect those cuts have had on New York’s justice system will be among the key topics for discussion at the New York State Bar Association’s 135th Annual Meeting in Manhattan, which starts on Monday.

The week-long conference will include forums on immigration, court funding, representation of veterans, diversity in the legal community and the impact of the Bernie Madoff fraud case on international litigation. More than 5,000 lawyers are expected.

Among those scheduled to address the conference are William Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association; Jack Rives, executive director of the American Bar Association; state Chief Judge Jonathan Lipmann; state Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti; former state Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and former Governor David Paterson. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be presented with the Gold Medal, the Bar Association’s highest award, for lifelong excellence in the legal profession and his civic contributions.

On Wednesday, the conference will feature a panel on the crisis in state court funding across the United States. The Bar Association this week released a report that identified problems with the court system in the wake of state budget cuts, including long delays and postponements in civil and criminal cases, overcrowded court calendars, problems with jury selection and jury service, limited citizen access to legal services and overworked court employees, among other issues. Former state Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye (now of counsel with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom), will moderate a panel of state and national experts on the topic. American Bar Association President William T. Robinson’s keynote address also will focus on court funding.

For a complete listing of speakers, program and events, go to www.nysba.org/am2012. Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest state bar association in the country.

NY State Bar President: court funding cuts are bad for business

The New York State Bar Association’s report about the failing conditions of state courts in the wake of budget cuts is meant to be a wake-up call for state lawmakers who may be considering slashing the Office of Court Administration’s budget even further, Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III (right) told Completely Legal.

“Courts are doing more work with less resources,” he said, noting not only the 12 percent increase in overall caseloads from 2001 but also that foreclosure filings have nearly doubled. “There were years of budget constraints and years of stagnation before the funding cut.”

Doyle said he wants state lawmakers to realize that businesses look at the efficiency of a state’s court system when deciding if it will move to New York or expand its existing operations. If the court system appear overwrought and chaotic, he argued, businesses will leave New York.

“The legal climate in this state is just as important as the economic climate,” he said. “(State lawmakers) need to look at courts as something more than a line item on a budget sheet.”