This is the question that recently arose in New York. According to this post, the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee recommended immediately adding 21 family court judges to the bench. The Committee’s full report is available here.
Interestingly, the reason for the increase is an increase in need due to layoffs, consumer credit, housing problems, crime, and constrained social services as well as an increase in self-represented litigants (SRLs). It is fairly well-established that SRLs typically take more time in the courtroom than those represented by counsel. And reasons vary – many SRLs are not familiar with rules of court; they want to tell their whole story in court – not simply the “relevant” parts; and they may become more emotional because they’re not only living the part of the litigant, but also increasing their stress by acting on their own.
Add to that an increased need and you have clogged courts, aka decreased access to justice.
New York recognizes the need for more Family Court judges as does the representative from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
Now imagine an increase in the number of filings, say, by 10%.
In Family Court, that would be approximately 7,500 more cases in the year. With approximately 260 workdays per year with 8 hour workdays, that would average 3.6 cases per hour – without time for administrative tasks or completing paperwork.
What do you think? Do we need more Family Court Judges?