ANNOUNCES ORGANIZATION OF A SIMPLIFY THE COURTS COALITION
New York, NY – Modern Courts welcomes and enthusiastically supports the Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s proposal to change the current court system so that it better serves the needs of all those who use the courts to resolve their problems, whether civil, criminal, commercial or family matters.
Amelia T.R. Starr, Chair of the Fund and Committee for Modern Courts, said “Simplifying the courts will provide a system that works for all litigants – families, children, domestic violence survivors, advocates for the poor, small businesses, and anyone else who uses the courts.”
William Silverman, Vice Chair of Modern Courts and chair of its working group for court simplification, said, “The Chief Judge is proposing a much needed reform to make the court system more fair and efficient. What we have now is a relic of the 19th century that is so complex that it has become an impediment to justice, something true for all New Yorkers but especially for vulnerable populations. There is no substantive defense for the present system. New York has eleven different trial courts; California has one.”
The proposal of the Chief Judge requires a constitutional amendment, creating a court structure with a two tier system of courts – one with general jurisdiction to include matters that currently are considered by 5 separate courts (Supreme Court, Family Court, Surrogates Court, the Court of Claims and County Court) and a court of more limited jurisdiction to resolve matters that are currently considered by 5 separate courts (City Court, District Court, NYC Civil Court, NY Criminal Court and Housing Court). In addition it will eliminate the constitutional cap on the number of Supreme Court justices and enhance the status of Housing Court and its judges.
Ms. Starr continued, “The Chief Judge’s proposal builds upon her highly successful Excellence Initiative and is the next logical step in the process of strengthening and modernizing our courts to meet the challenges of the 21st century. New Yorkers deserve a court system that provides equality and dignity for everyone who enters the courtroom. We need a system that is designed to have the authority and resources to provide all litigants with better justice.”
In order to support the Chief Judge’s proposal, Modern Courts is organizing a coalition, called the Simplify the Courts! Coalition and Campaign, which currently includes 105 member organizations from across the entire state to demonstrate to legislative leaders and legislative members how this reform will benefit their constituents.
During the next legislative session which begins in January 2020, Modern Courts and coalition members will support and advocate on behalf of a legislative resolution which will amend Article VI (Judiciary) of the constitution to create simplified court system. During the legislative session which begins in January 2021 the same process will be repeated with the goal that the people for the state of New York will be able to approve a statewide voter referendum at the general election of November 2021.
Amelia T.R. Starr said, “Modern Courts and the coalition plan to engage the public in a discussion of the pressing need and tangible benefits of court simplification and are committed to working with the Legislature to amend our constitution to modernize the structure of the courts so that it will work better for all New Yorkers.”
Partial funding for the development of this coalition and campaign was provided by The New York Community Trust.
Founded in 1955, Modern Courts is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, statewide organization dedicated to improving the courts in New York State through public education and advocacy.
Additional information about Modern Courts is available at www.moderncourts.org.
Simplify the Courts! Coalition
A growing coalition of organizations who support a court system that is accessible, navigable & trusted by all New Yorkers.
Anti-Violence Project New York City (AVP)
Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Project
Buffalo/Niagara League of Women Voters
Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany
Center for Community Alternatives, Inc., New York City, Syracuse and Rochester
Center for Court Innovation
Center for Elder Law and Justice, Erie County
Center for Safety and Change, Rockland County
Children’s Defense Fund, NY
Citizens’ Committee for Children
Common Cause New York
Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies
Crime Victims Treatment Center
Empire Justice Center
Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island (ECLI)
Erie County Bar Association (ECBA) Volunteer Lawyers Project
Family Services Society of Yonkers
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Fines and Fees Justice Center
Good Shepherd Services
Grace Smith House, Inc.
HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services
Human Services Council
Immigrant Justice Corp
JCCA (formerly known as Jewish Child Care Association)
Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence
Lawyers for Children, Inc.
League of Women Voters NYC
League of Women Voters of New York State
League of Women Voters of the Syracuse Metropolitan Area
LGBT Bar Association of New York
LIFT (Legal Information for Families Today)
Long Island Association
Long Island Housing Services, Inc.
Mobilization for Justice, Inc.
My Sister’s Place
NAACP New York Conference
New Alternatives for Children
New Castle League of Women Voters
New York City Bar Association
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York Legal Assistance Group/NYLAG
New York Legal Services Coalition
New York State Bar Association
New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
North Country League of Women Voters
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation/NMIC
Oswego County Opportunities, Inc., (OCA) Crisis & Development Services
Pace Women’s Justice Center
Partnership for New York City
Prison Families Anonymous
Queens County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project
Rising Ground (formerly Leake and Watts)
Rivertowns League of Women Voters
Rochester Metropolitan Area League of Women Voters
Rockland County League of Women Voters
Safe Homes of Orange County
Safe Passage Project
Sanctuary for Families
Saratoga County League of Women Voters
SCO Family of Services
Shalom Task Force
STOP Domestic Violence/Behavioral Health Services North, Inc.
The Children’s Law Center
The Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services
The Legal Aid Society of NYC
The Legal Aid Society of Rochester
The Safe Center Long Island
UJA Federation – NY
Unity House of Troy, Inc.
Urban Justice Center
Urban Resource Institute
Vera House, Inc.
Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS)
Violence Intervention Program, Inc.
Voices of Women
VOLS (Volunteers of Legal Services)
Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc.
Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County
Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale
Westchester County Office for Women
Westchester Jewish Community Services
Westchester Women’s Agenda
Western New York Law Center
William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center at Touro Law Center, Suffolk County