ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — As the Court of Appeals awaits a new Chief Judge nomination, all things are business as usual. Acting Chief Judge, Anthony Cannataro delivered the 2023 State of Our Judiciary Address. All of this happening after a lawsuit forced a floor vote in the Senate, which ultimately rejected Justice Hector D. LaSalle as next Chief Judge. 

“It seems sometimes, as if nothing is easy in the courts these days,” said Cannataro who met in person for the first time in two years. Judge Cannataro spoke about some of the progress the justice system has made as well as some of the hurdles they continue to face coming out of the COVID era. “There can be no question the 2022 was a year marked by transition, we emerged from two very challenging years, and with your court system, like our community at large, was compelled to modify its operations during an unprecedented, global health crisis,” he said.

Following the pandemic Cannataro said in 2022 there was a 68% increase in trials with more than half being felony related. Cannataro also discussed the increased need for legal representation in housing cases. According to America’s Health Rankings Organization the median rent increased by 15% between 2001 and 2019, but the median household income only rose by 3.4%. “Our housing courts will continue to assist tenants and landlords in a fair and timely manner. Many courts around the states have taken supportive measures of their own to facilitate increased access to self help resources and legal representation in housing disputes,” he said.

Cannataro pointed to Erie County, the 8th Judicial District,  which provides a virtual hub court – a forum for tenants and landlords – to dispute cases. “Proactive programs like this go a long way toward helping tenants remain in their homes and assist parties in forming plans to avoid future disputes,” he said. Cannataro did not mention the fact that there is still no Chief Judge and as of right now there’s no word as to who Governor’s Hochul next Chief Judge nomination will be.