New Family Court slots proposed for WNY

May 30, 2014

State lawmakers have a heavy agenda as they work to end the legislative session by June 19.  One item, a fight over family court seats, has the attention of some local members of the state delegation.

There's a substantial fight over new family court seats, with a shifting list of which counties will get a new judgeship. Close to home, both Chautauqua and Erie Counties are on the list.

Jamestown State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell says his county needs another family court judge.

"Our current family court judge is Judith Claire. She does an excellent job but the caseload in Chautauqua County is among the highest in the entire state, per judge," Goodell said.

"It's a tremendous caseload that she handles and this additional family court judge is critically needed for Chautauqua County."

With Erie County also on the list, Republican State Senator Patrick Gallivan has more than a passing interest in the issue.

State Senator Patrick Gallivan

"The Office of Court Administration made a successful argument that because of the caseload, there was a need for more judges," Gallivan said.

"When these positions are assigned through legislation and new judges are elected into these positions, the theory is, of course, it will help to alleviate some of those heavy caseloads."               

Since this is an election year, with all state offices on the ballot, lawmakers want to get out and start campaigning back home. This is also the time when petitions start circulating to get on the ballot and they want to make sure it's done properly to keep them on the ballot.