Metro

‘Republican’ Staten Island excluded from getting more judges under Dem NY bill: ‘Blatantly disproportionate’ 

The Democratic-led state Legislature passed a bill to add 12 new Civil Court judgeships throughout New York City to address backlogs in cases — but excluded Staten Island, the most Republican borough.

Three judgeships each would be added to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx under the bill passed by the Assembly and Senate in the final hours of the legislative session last week.

Staten Island was excluded despite a massive backlog of cases, the borough’s GOP lawmakers said.

State Assemblyman Michael Reilly said Staten Island voters should have the right to elect their own judges that represent their values, not get jurists assigned from other boroughs. Paul Martinka

“The allocation is blatantly disproportionate and does not adequately reflect the growing needs of our community,” state Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-SI) said.

All four of the elected Civil Court judges on Staten Island are Republican, and it’s likely that with former President Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, faring well at the top of the ticket, any new judges elected will be Republicans, too.

Additional slots of family court judges will go to Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Jefferson, Nassau, Rensselaer, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties.

One GOP lawmaker said freezing the most conservative borough from additional judgeship reeks of partisanship.

“It’s peculiar that Staten Island, the only borough that consistently votes Republican, was excluded,” said Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, also Staten Island’s Republican Party chairman.

Reilly sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday urging not to sign the bill into law unless the Legislature adds three judgeships for Staten Island as an amendment.

He noted that Staten Island, with an estimated population of 475,000, accounts for 6% of the city’s population but only get 3% of the judges.

Gov. Kathy Hochul received a letter from Reilly urging not to sign the bill into law unless the Legislature adds three judgeships for Staten Island as an amendment. Michael Nagle

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), the Judiciary Committee chairman, defended the allocation of positions and emphasized that judges can be reassigned from other boroughs to Staten Island.

“I’m not naïve to suggest that politics doesn’t play a role,” he said. “But I like to think that the judgeships we created are for non-partisan purposes.

“I’m grateful Albany passed our legislation this session to respond to the enormous backlog of cases by creating 28 judgeships across the state to be dedicated to family courts across the state,” Hoylman-Sigal said.

He said many of the city judges will handle family court cases, noting the backlog of such cases is most severe in Brooklyn, with approximately 25,000 cases and the Bronx, with 21,000 cases, followed by Queens with 17,000 and Manhattan with 9,300 cases.

“It’s peculiar that Staten Island, the only borough that consistently votes Republican, was excluded,” said Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, also Staten Island’s Republican Party chairman. Hans Pennink

“Staten Island currently has 3,400 cases on backlog, but it’s fully expected that any of the 16 new judges we created for New York City will be moved to Staten Island family court to address the backlog there if it is not expeditiously cleared. These judges can in fact be assigned to any borough, which is the expectation,” Hoylman-Sigal said.

But Reilly said Staten Island voters should have the right to elect their own judges that represent their values, not get jurists assigned from other boroughs.

“We’re not giving the people of Staten Island the ability to elect the judges they deem fit to sit in the borough,” said Reilly.

Staten Island has only one Democratic boroughwide elected official — District Attorney Michael McMahon.

Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and Borough President Vito Fossella are Republicans, as are a majority of city council members and state legislators.