House approves report on New York State Constitution’s Judiciary Article
By Christina Couto
Citing its length and the potential for confusion, Henry M. Greenberg of Albany (Greenberg Traurig LLP), chair of the Committee on the New York State Constitution, discussed Article VI, the Judiciary Article of the state Constitution, during the House of Delegates (HOD) January 27 meeting, held in New York City.
Article VI could be amended if a constitutional convention is convened in 2019. New York voters will be asked this question when they go to the polls this November.
"Whether you are for a potential constitutional convention or you are against a constitutional convention, this much I think I can say without fear of contradiction about Article VI: It's a mess. It's a ramshackle mess," Greenberg said, explaining that New York's Constitution is 16,000 words—one-third of which contains the Judiciary Article—compared with the U.S. Constitution's Judiciary Article, which is 375 words in total.
The Judiciary Article— the subject of the committee's latest report, which was approved by the HOD—is the basis for the state court system's operating structure and governs issues such as the number and jurisdiction of trial and appellate courts; administration and finance of the court system; number of judges; manner of judicial selection and discipline; and which courts have jurisdiction over particular matters.
Judiciary Article report
The report, "The Judiciary Article of the New York State Constitution— Opportunities to Restructure and Modernize the New York Courts," was presented by Greenberg and committee member and Past President Stephen P. Younger of Buffalo (Patterson Belknap).
It observes that past efforts to restructure and modernize the court system have not been successful.
"For various reasons, decades have gone by without any successful effort to restructure and modernize the Constitutional underpinnings of our State's court system," the report states.
"The result has been a Unified Court System that has 11 different trial courts, resulting in an overly complex, unduly costly and unnecessarily inefficient court structure.
"According to Greenberg, the goal of the report is to "educate the profession, the public, policymakers and the press about the kinds of issues that a constitutional convention could tackle with respect to this profession we love and the court system that we fight for every day."
To date, the committee and the State Bar has no opinion on whether a constitutional convention should be held.
The committee however, was directed to make a recommendation on whether a constitutional convention would be in the best interest of the bar.
View the report at http://www.nysba.org/judiciaryreport2017/
To view the discussion about Article VI during the HOD meeting, visit http://totalwebcasting.com/live/nysbar/