NYC Misdemeanor Court Kafkaesque Disaster: Paper


New York City’s Criminal Court, which handles misdemeanor caes, “must be rescued from the disaster it has become,” editorializes the New York Daily News. Manhattan District Attorney candidate Cy Vance vows to lead a crash fixup program for the Manhattan court. The Daily News says the court, starved for resources, has become the weak link in the justice system.

Last year, it managed to hold trials in one-tenth of one percent of its cases. “Kafkaesque” is the right word for a court where the odds that any defendant will stand trial are, literally, 1,000 to 1. What happens day in and day out are paper-shuffling and endless plea bargaining, often by repeat offenders who spin the revolving door faster than a roulette wheel, says the newspaper. The caseload is up; so are dismissals, backlogs, and the time cases linger before disposition. The number of judges and trials is down. Last year, the court initiated 357,480 cases, 21% more than in 1990, the high year for crime in New York. With a third fewer judges, the number of cases awaiting action has soared 169 percent.

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