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Retired NY State Judges Will Be Able To Recertify After Being Forced To Step Off The Bench Due To COVID-19

May 6, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">New York State Supreme Court justices who reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 will again be able to re-apply for their job and continue the bench.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The New York State Constitution says judges must retire at the end of the year they reach age 70. The constitution allows for judges to recertify for a maximum of three two-year terms after proving that they’re still mentally and physically fit for the job.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">However, statewide budget cuts due to COVID-19 forced state agencies to shrink spending leading up to the 2021 fiscal year. More than $300 million was cut from the state’s judiciary budget, resulting in downsized operations and system-wide staff cuts. That included money to pay for retirement-age judges who wished to petition court administrators to serve additional terms.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In November, a lawsuit was filed in Suffolk County by 46 out of 49 judges who were denied certification, claiming age discrimination, and that Judge DiFiore, Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, and the courts’ administrative board abused their discretion. Justice Paul Baisley Jr. struck down the decision by court administrators to deny the reappointment in December. In March, the Third Department ruled that New York court administrators had the constitutional authority to deny the judge's reappointment, which ultimately was affirmed by the New York Court of Appeals.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Despite the decision, Judge DiFiore<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/announced.pdf">announced</a></em> that the judiciary budget recently passed by the state legislature will provide enough money to rehire the older judges, whose applications to serve beyond the age limit were denied because of the constraints prompted by COVID-19.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The New York State Bar Association welcomed the decision. “The announcement by Chief Judge DiFiore will help our justice system run more smoothly and improve access to justice for lawyers and litigants,” said the group’s president, Scott Karson.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post.  Should you have questions, please feel free to contact <a href="mailto:tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Thomas Bracken.</a></p>

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