For years the Judiciary and Office of Court Administration have been paying increasing attention to the vitality of the locally operated town and village Justice Court system. Whether in the area of post-September 11 court security, indigent defense, interpreting services, facilities, training or other aspects of effective court management, the administration and operation of local courts has been a growing cause of concern given the tremendous caseloads and important responsibilities that New York expects its Justice Courts to discharge. Often local justices and courts lack the full panoply of resources that state-paid courts take for granted, even as our Constitution and laws set a single standard of justice among all of New York’s courts.
For these reasons, in 2006 Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman released an Action Plan for the Justice Courts, assessing the strengths of the current system and the most effective ways the Judiciary, the Legislature and local governments together can assist the Justice Courts within the existing legal structure. The initiatives announced in the Action Plan are being implemented now and hopefully will make significant improvements to the cost-effective delivery of justice in the local courts.
As the Action Plan itself makes clear, the Action Plan is not a cure-all and does not take the place of the Special Commission’s detailed analysis and any future reforms the Special Commission may recommend. The Action Plan is an important first step in better harnessing New York State’s energies to improve the local justice system, and the Special Commission’s assessment of the Justice Courts will closely follow the implementation of the Action Plan to help gauge what further reforms, if any, are necessary.
View the Action Plan.