Schenectady Family Court needs a new judge now

Sunday, March 17, 2013
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Like a hockey team with two skaters in the penalty box, Schenectady County Family Court has been at a distinct disadvantage since Christine Clark was sworn in as state Supreme Court judge in January. Her departure has left the court’s only other regular judge, Michael Powers, and a patchwork quilt of retired judges and fill-ins from nearby counties, to preside over the busy court — one that the state Office of Court Administration said as far back as 13 years ago needs a third full-time judge.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to appoint Clark’s replacement as soon as possible, and address the OCA’s recommendation for a third judge.

Even before Clark left, Vito Caruso, the Fourth Judicial District’s administrative judge, says he was lobbying for a third judge to help reduce the court’s backlog. It’s one of the three busiest family courts in his 11-county region, and it not only needs the continuity that having regular, full-time judges provides, but more of them.

Instead, it’s been having to make do with Powers and four part-timers: two retirees acting in a limited capacity as judicial hearing officers and two judges from the nearly-as-crowded Saratoga County Family Court. The result has been more delays and inconsistency in dealing with important family issues like custody disputes. Is it any wonder that Caruso recently told a reporter, “We can’t do this long-term.”

It’s possible that Cuomo’s delay is politically motivated: He could be waiting for the full Schenectady County Democratic Committee to confirm its executive board’s recent endorsement of Kevin Burke to run for Clarke’s old seat in November. A vote is expected later this month. But the governor has had since Election Day to deal with this issue; that was more than four months ago.

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March 18, 2013
8:10 a.m.
sherrera says...

I wish the gazette would make more of an effort to edit and fact check their work. Judges names shouldnt be incorrect especially sitting judges in the papers own county. The same mistake was made twice in two weeks.

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