All N.Y. judges not eligible for COVID vaccine, but other court staff is

Bizar Male

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Nearly all personnel in state courts are eligible to receive coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations — except judges.

Only those judges and justices age 65 and over or with immuno-compromised conditions can get vaccinated under Phase 1b of the state’s distribution program, which became effective on Jan. 11.

All court officers are eligible for vaccination under Phase 1b.

So are civilian court staff and personnel regardless of age, according to state court officials’ reading of the eligibility guidelines.

But not all judges and justices.

In her weekly message on Monday, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said court officials are “very pleased” that court officers and court staff are now vaccine eligible.

However, they are “extremely disappointed” judges aren’t also in that mix.

“The chief administrative judge (Lawrence K. Marks) and I have repeatedly urged our state officials to immediately expand the vaccination guidelines,” said DiFiore. “Failure to include judges in the priority category runs counter to our ability and our efforts to maximize the provision of justice services, and to our central role in protecting public safety and upholding the rule of law.”

“I assure you that we are persisting in our efforts to have judges included,” DiFiore said.

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Dennis Quirk, head of the New York State Court Officers Association, said judges need to be vaccinated for everyone’s safety.

“There are many court employees who will be unable to get the vaccine due to existing medical conditions and religious grounds,” said Quirk. “Excluding judges from the vaccine will endanger these employees.”

The governor’s office did not respond to several emails seeking comment on the eligibility issue.

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