Last week Governor Cuomo offered the judges a raise, but with strings attached: they have to promise to keep their courtrooms open from 9 to 5 (NY Law Journal 1/17/2018).
“The backlog of cases is tremendous, especially in downstate New York,” he said. “We have a chronic problem with people in Rikers Island who have been there for years who haven’t had their day in court. The judiciary wants a budget increase. The people of the state of New York have the right to know that the courts are open. … You have courthouses that are, literally, at one o’clock—the place shuts down. The judges have to certify that the courtrooms are actually operating nine to five.”
The indignant howls that went up! “Violates the Separation of Powers!” “Unfair to single out judges!” “Will add significant costs!” “Will decrease public confidence in our system of justice!”
What’s the big deal? So the courtrooms have to stay open. Doesn’t mean anybody, least of all a judge, has to be there. Have the cleaning lady sit comfortably at the prosecution table reading The Post.
Not all the reactions were negative. “I know our hardworking judges will do their best to meet the Governor’s request,” said the aptly named Judge Prudenti.