Update on Judiciary Budget
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2010

As reported in the attached New York Law Journal article, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman submitted the Judiciary's budget on Wednesday. The Judiciary's budget contains a number of important funding initiatives that will help support our client services. For our Civil Practice, the Judiciary's budget includes $25 million in new Statewide civil legal services funding as recommended by the Chief Judge's Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services.

This $25 million civil legal services initiative is the first part of the Task Force's four-year plan to eventually provide $100 million in annual Judiciary funding for civil legal assistance to bridge the access to justice gap for low-income New Yorkers. The Judiciary's budget also continues to contain $15 million in rescue funding to address in part the reduction on IOLA funding due to the dramatic drop in interest rates. The Task Force's Report is attached below. Attorney-in-Chief Steven Banks, ALAA President Deborah Wright, and 1199 SEIU Political Action Director Kevin Finnegan are members of the Chief Judge's Task Force. The Task Force is Chaired by Helaine Barnett, the former head of the Society's Civil Practice and the former head of the federal Legal Services Corporation.

The Judiciary's budget also contains the second year of funding to continue to implement the Criminal Defense case caps. In addition, the budget continues to allocate funding to enable our Juvenile Rights Practice to comply with the client caseload limits.

While the release of the Judiciary's budget is just the beginning of the State budget process, the Chief Judge's budget initiatives are major breakthroughs for our client services. The Society, ALAA, and 1199 SEIU will continue to work together to advocate for these initiatives to be included in the final budget agreement.