NY courts being flooded with “recession cases”

According to The New York Times, state courts have handled 4.7 million cases in 2009 — the highest number ever —  because of what some consider recession-sparked cases of contract disputes, home foreclosures and family assaults. To read more, click here.

The statewide trend is reflected here in the Lower Hudson Valley, where since 2008, Rockland County has seen a 13 percent increase in civil cases, Dutchess has seen an 11 percent rise, while Orange has seen a 5 percent jump. The cases reflect soaring numbers of foreclosures, divorces, contract disputes and other civil cases outside of Westchester, said Alan Scheinkman, the administrative judge for the 9th Judicial District.

It’s why Westchester County Judge Jeffrey Cohen and Yonkers City Court Judge Charles Wood, who both won the fall election for state judge, are being reassigned to Orange County and Dutchess County, respectively. I wish them both a smooth ride on the long commute.

Alessandros in trouble

We’re talking BIG trouble here for the Alessandro brothers, Judge Joseph of Orange County and Judge Francis of the Bronx. The state Commission on Judicial Conduct wants both Alessandros to be kicked off the bench and has recommended as much to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which will have the final say on the matter.

Click here for a summary of the Alessandros’ problems.

The commission’s beef with the brothers involves a $250,000 loan to Joseph Alessandro’s cash-strapped 2003 campaign for Westchester County Court. It also involves the brothers not being completely forthright with their financial disclosures to the court’s ethics board. Click here to read more about the commission’s ruling.

So why do we care? The $250,000 helped Joe Alessandro, a Republican, win the county court seat in Westchester, which led him to run for state Supreme Court two years later. He won that seat as well, thanks to a 2005 cross-endorsement deal that tied his candidacy to — wait for it — Judge Jonathan Lippman, who was running for a state court seat as a Democrat.

Lippman, as you may know, continued to rise and this month became Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. That means Lippman, who lives in Rye Brook, now heads the same court that must decide if Alessandro gets to keep his job. No word yet as to whether Lippman will recuse himself from the matter.