REPORT I: REFORM OF THE STATE-PAID COURTS
In February 2007, Chief Judge Kaye released the Special Commission’s first report, which focused on the nine state-paid trial courts and the intermediate appellate courts (i.e. the Appellate Divisions, Appellate Terms and upstate County Courts). The report’s major recommendation was to consolidate the nine state-paid trial courts into a streamlined two-tier structure comprising a new Supreme Court (consisting of the current Supreme Court, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and the Court of Claims) and a new Municipal Court system (comprising the current District Courts on Long Island, the New York City Civil and Criminal Courts, and the City Courts outside New York City). Other recommendations include increasing the number of judicial departments to relieve overburdened appellate dockets and associated backlogs, lifting the cap on the permissible number of Supreme Court justices, and harmonizing the jurisdiction and procedures of the various tribunals.
The Special Commission also drafted a proposed constitutional amendment embodying these reforms, which form the basis for the proposal now pending before the Legislature.
Report, Appendix, Pending Constitutional Amendment
REPORT II: REFORM OF THE LOCAL COURTS
In September 2008, the Commission delivered to Chief Judge Kaye a nearly 300-page report detailing its findings and proposed reforms for the Justice Courts. In this second report, the Commission identified four broad categories of findings: those concerning the organization of the Justice Courts; the qualifications of the Justices; the courts’ facilities and resources; and the role of fines and funding in the courts. In addition, it advanced specific proposals for reform, accompanied by model legislation that could be used to implement these proposals. Chief Judge Kaye strongly endorsed the report and released it to the public at a press conference held on September 17, 2008.