New York state has regularly added new judge positions to the court system in an attempt to address a backlog and the governor signed a bill as recently as last month doing just that.

However, the state Constitution caps the number of new state Supreme Court slots lawmakers can add based on population in the 13 judicial districts. 

"The issue is that the burdens on the court system doesn't necessarily scale with population. Different jurisdictions have many different demands. Manhattan in particular has a lot of civil trials and business trials that end up gumming up the courts," state Assemblymember Alex Bores, D-Manhattan, said.

The governor is indicating support for a constitutional amendment to remove that cap in her State of the State address. Bores sponsored the proposal last session.

"Justice delayed is justice denied and having more of these judges will help us have speedier trials and actually deliver good results for New Yorkers," Bores said.

Attorney Victor Kovner of the Fund for Modern Courts said the issue is decades old and multi-faceted. Because there is a shortage of judges, the state appoints judges from lower courts which he says ultimately takes the decision away from voters.

The issue specifically impacts New York City courts, which are currently up against the cap but Kovner pointed out legal business in New York County impacts the whole state.

"The greatest amount of legal business arises in Manhattan because that's where so many industries are based and because of this cap we simply can't add needed, very deeply needed, Supreme Court justices in those counties," he said.

A constitutional amendment requires approval from the Legislature in two consecutive sessions followed by approval from New York voters. 

"I think the governor putting the weight of her office behind it is what's going to get it over the line," Bores said.

Kovner believes Hochul's support could have an impact as well.

"I think Gov. Hochul's approach to the courts and court reform has been very encouraging."