CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 23, 2006

NY Judges Make a Plan to Reform the Old Town and Village Court System

From New York’s top judicial officials outlined a plan on Tuesday to begin reforming the state’s 300-year-old system of town and village courts, which have been criticized for decades as outmoded, poorly supervised and unfair.

The plan, announced here by the state’s chief judge, Judith S. Kaye, included changes that have been recommended for years by defense lawyers and legal experts. Among them were plans to increase training for the justices, to improve their supervision and to better monitor whether they are protecting basic legal principles like the constitutional right to a lawyer.

The courts — known as justice courts — are also to be required for the first time to keep a word-for-word record of their proceedings, like other courts in the state.

While the officials said that many town and village justices are diligent, Judge Kaye said a sweeping reform program was called for by what she called enduring concerns about the courts. The system has survived a century of calls for radical overhaul by governors and commissions, and an important legal challenge in the 1980s. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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