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Sunday, April 12, 2009

More Accountability Coming to Administration of NY Courts

Local Administrators to Handle Day-to-Day Court Management
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - April 9, 2009

ALBANY, NY - Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced yesterday changes that strip away what court officials describe as an unneeded layer of oversight in New York City's criminal and civil courts. The chief judge said that, effective immediately, he is doing away with the citywide positions of administrative judge for criminal courts and administrative judge for civil courts. Administrative judges in the city's five boroughs now will oversee day-to-day management of the courts. The new county-based structure will "allow for greater attention to local issues and concerns, enable quicker responses to operational and administrative problems when they arise and create more flexibility in deploying resources among the courts," the chief judge said in a statement released by the Office of Court Administration. The changes represent round two in Judge Lippman's efforts to streamline the administration of the courts, which has been criticized as bloated by some legislators.

Last month, he eliminated three of the five state chief deputy administrative judgeships, leaving only the posts of chief deputy administrative judge for courts in New York City and for courts outside New York City. He said his goal was to cut through what he called the "clutter" at the top echelons of the judiciary (NYLJ, March 12). Judge Fern Fisher was the last holder of the title of administrative judge for New York City civil courts. She was designated by Chief Judge Lippman last month as chief deputy administrative judge for courts in New York City. Judge Juanita Bing Newton was administrative judge for New York City criminal courts. Judge Newton, who also held the title of deputy chief administrative judge for justice initiatives, has been designated as dean of the New York State Judicial Institute. Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau yesterday praised the work of both Judge Fisher and Judge Newton, but said their new assignments gave Judge Lippman the opportunity to make changes.  "The whole idea is, in a time of limited resources, we want to make sure that the resources get to the trial courts and make sure that the bureaucracy is as limited as possible," Judge Pfau said in an interview. "This does not create any new positions, it is just a new management structure." Under the new structure, administrative judges for civil matters will manage the Supreme Court civil terms and Civil Court. They will oversee the supervising judges for the Housing Court and Civil Court in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. Similarly, the administrative judge for criminal matters will manage the Supreme Court's criminal terms and Criminal Court, and they will oversee the counties' Criminal Court supervising judges.

Previously, supervising judges reported directly to Judge Fisher or Judge Newton and not to the administrative judges designated for civil and criminal courts in the four boroughs. They now report to the county-based administrative judges directly. Because of Staten Island's relatively small size, one administrative judge will oversee both criminal and civil courts there, Judge Pfau said.  There are currently several openings among the civil and criminal court administrative judges in the five boroughs. The OCA said yesterday the openings would be filled within the next several weeks. Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus, the administrative judge for the Criminal Term of Manhattan Supreme Court, said the new structure could simplify his dealings with Judge Melissa Jackson, the supervisory judge of Manhattan Criminal Court.  In the past, Judge Jackson would go to Judge Newton with matters involving Criminal Court that did not concern the Criminal Term in Supreme Court. Under the new structure, Judge Jackson reports to Justice Obus. "I am hopeful that it will help in terms of streamlining things," Justice Obus said. "I am also hopeful that it will not change things all that much as far as the day-to-day lives of the people who work in the courts. With clerks and court officers, things really shouldn't change." Justice Obus said he anticipates working closely with Judge Jackson on drug cases and diversion to treatment programs given the Rockefeller drug law reforms approved by the state lawmakers last week in the 2009-10 budget.

Family Court Not Affected

Family Courts in New York City will not be affected by the new county-based system but remain under control of supervisory judges in each of the five boroughs, who will continue to report to a citywide administrative judge for Family Court. That judge, in turn, will report to Judge Fisher. Since Family Court judges can handle criminal and civil issues in the same case, Judge Pfau said it does not lend itself to an administrative structure that separates those issues. With the changes, the city court structure will more closely mirror the administrative system already used outside New York City, according to Judge Pfau. There, supervisory judges already report to one administrative judge in each of the Supreme Court districts, she said. Judge Lippman said the changes were made in consultation with Presiding Justices A. Gail Prudenti of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Luis A. Gonzalez of the First Department.

See Also: "Another Promising Step in Reversing NY's Court Corruption"


Anonymous said...

Well, at least Lippman is trying something different. That's a good sign.

Bat Out Of Hell said...

Looks like more Lipp service. I will believe it is not more of same bs when heads roll as a result of this or any other actions he takes. For now he remains an enabler and aid and abetter.

Anonymous said...

Different within OCA is NOT a good sign...ever!
When OCA goes different it is always an attempt to implement new corruption or cover up old..I know I worked there for 30 yrs.

For those who have no internal experience with OCA operations...remember...they only function for themselves and the political party that put them there...THEY DO NOT HAVE THE THE PUBLIC'S INTERESTS OR CONCERNS IN MIND! I cannot emphasize that enough on this blog.

If OCA does not cleanout first and heavily... then citizens you are in the same place with Lipmann as you were with Kaye.

Do not be fooled by his convoluted moving efforts...he is covering what this blog has made obvious and OCA is still threatening employees with their jobs, which will be terminated if they reveal the filthy judicial closets!

The same horrors are in how can credible changed really be affected?

Eliot Bernstein said...

To above, change can be affected by Pitchforking them to death. They are only OZ type public servants, it is our citizen duty to weed the weeds out and disinfect a corrupt system.

Pitchforks free @

dg said...

Mr.Bernstein, are you advocating violence against people?

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