N E W S Further Information:
New York State Communications Director
Unified Court System Mai Yee, Communications Officer
Chief Administrative Judge Release: Immediate, October 27, 1997
Administrative Board of the Courts Adopts Comprehensive New Standards
and Procedures for Selecting Judicial Hearing Officers
NEW YORK--Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Lippman announced today that the Administrative Board of the Courts has approved a comprehensive overhaul of the processes for selecting and redesignating Judicial Hearing Officers (JHOs). Designed to ensure that only the most competent individuals remain eligible to serve as JHOs, the amendments to 22 NYCRR Part 122 shorten the term of service from two years to one year, establish new standards for evaluating performance, and create a JHO Evaluation Board of high-level court administrators that will make recommendations to the Chief Administrative Judge concerning redesignation.
Chief Judge Kaye stated, "Now, more than ever, government must find creative ways to make the best use of existing resources. The pool of retired and former judges who serve as JHOs has long been an important and cost-effective resource for the court system. Overwhelmingly, these highly experienced, dedicated individuals serve the public ably and contribute greatly to the efficient performance of the courts. The Administrative Boards adoption of permanent standards governing the performance and retention of JHOs will promote consistency of quality and ensure that the court system, the bar and the public will continue to benefit from this invaluable resource for many years to come."
Judge Lippman added, "The court system is under an important obligation to fosteraccountability and efficiency in all court and judicial support operations. Continued service as a JHO should be predicated on a finding that past service meets certain established performance standards. These important revisions to the process for redesignating JHOs institute a number of procedures designed to develop a corps of thoroughly qualified and highly capable quasi-judicial officers who have the confidence of the entire bar and the public."
Pursuant to the amendments, JHOs may be redesignated for additional one-year terms based upon a new individualized performance review system whereby administrative judges monitor the actual performance of JHOs and prepare periodic written reports evaluating that performance. A panel of high level court administrators (JHO Evaluation Board) will review the performance evaluations, as well as all other input received from the bar and public concerning the JHO, and make recommendations to the Chief Administrative Judge regarding redesignation.
To qualify for redesignation, the JHO must demonstrate the physical and mental capacity, competence, work ethic and judicial temperament necessary to perform the duties of the office, as defined by the following criteria:
·310·Competence: effective case management and prompt case disposition, knowledge of the law, and quality and clarity of written opinions;·310
·310·Work ethic: punctuality, preparation and attentiveness, and meeting commitments on time and according to the rules of the court;·310
·310·Judicial temperament: the ability to deal patiently with and be courteous to all parties and participants.·310
Individuals seeking initial designation as a JHO will be judged by the same criteria, together with their level of "experience," which refers to "the nature, length and proximity in time of judicial service." These applicants will also be evaluated in written reports prepared by Administrative Judges familiar with their performance.
The amendments will take effect on January 1, 1998.