Proposed Legislative Amendment on Selection

Amendment Purpose:

1967 Constitutional Convention Amendment: Selection of District Judges

Summary of Amendment:
  • Permits the Court of Appeals to create new judges subject to disapproval only by concurrent resolution of the legislature, continues power to create by statute
  • Requires submission to county voters as to whether a District Court shall be established
  • Grants authority to the Court of Appeals to administer the court system
Article V
Judiciary 

Section 1. This article vests the judicial power of the state in a unified state-wide court system, consisting of the court of appeals, the supreme court and its appellate divisions, the court on the judiciary, the court of claims, the surrogate’s court, the family court, the civil and criminal courts of the city of New York and the district court system. The legislature is directed to create at least five but not more than seven appellate divisions. It also includes county, town, city and village courts now existing until they may be superseded and abolished by the adoption of the district court system in any county outside the city of New York. The legislature is authorized to establish an administrative body as part of the unified court system to hear and determine such minor infractions of law as may be provided by statute.

Section 2. The article includes provisions relating to the qualifications, manner of selec­tion, assignment, compensation, terms of office and retirement of judges. Most judges are permitted to continue to serve until age 76 upon certification of need and capability. The article continues concurrent jurisdiction of the sur­rogate’s and family courts in adoption proceedings. The jurisdiction of the court of claims is enlarged to include actions against joint tortfeasors with the state.

Section 3. The cost of operating the court of appeals, the court of claims, and the district court system is to be paid by the state. In addition, the state will, over a ten-year period, assume the costs of operating the supreme court, appellate divisions of the supreme court, the surrogate’s court, the county court, the family court, and the civil and criminal courts of the city of New York.

Section 4. The article provides for a mandatory referendum in every county of the state, except those comprising New York City and those counties in which a district court presently exists, on the question of whether a district court system should be established. Upon establishment of a district court in any county, inferior courts therein may be abolished.

Section 5. The authority and responsibility for administrative supervision of the unified court system is vested in the court of appeals. The court shall appoint an administrator to be chief executive officer of the court system. The court of appeals may create additional judges by certifying the need therefor, subject to disapproval only by concurrent resolution of the legislature. In addition, there is continued the power to create additional judges by statute.

Legislative Amendment Text:

Article V

Judiciary

§ 5. a. The supreme court shall have general original jurisdiction in law and equity. 

b. The number of supreme court judges, who shall be elected by the voters of the judicial districts in which they are to serve, shall be fixed by law or in accordance with section twenty-three of this article, but there shall be not less than the number authorized by law on the operative date of this constitution. 

c. The clerks of the several counties shall be clerks of the supreme court. 

§ 23. Additional offices of judge of the supreme court, the court of claims, the county court, the surrogate’s court, the family court, any district courts and the civil and criminal courts of the city of New York may from time to time be created by the court of appeals by certification that such additional offices are necessary to promote the effective administration of justice. Such certification shall be filed with the legislature on or before February first in any year and shall be effective unless the legislature, on or before April first next ensuing, provides by concurrent resolution that such additional offices shall be less than the number certified by the court of appeals. Upon recommendation of such court, the legislature by concurrent resolution may reduce the number of additional offices of judges of such courts but such reduction shall not affect the term of any incumbent.