1. New York has more trial courts than any other state in the country
- New York has 11 different trial courts
- California has 1
2. The court system is not trusted by everyone because the structure creates obstacles, confusion, and a lack of transparency for people seeking to resolve their legal issues. Because of its structure:
- The court system is not accessible to all
- The court system is difficult to navigate
- The court system is not understandable
3. The court system’s resources are not equally distributed to reflect the nature and volume of the cases. This inequality disproportionately affects the courts where the resolution of cases is a matter of safety, security, liberty, due process and economic stability:
- Housing cases
- Criminal matters
- Family cases often involving children
- Consumer cases
4. The current New York court structure perpetuates inequality in our justice system, and its impact extends beyond the courtroom:
- The chronic case overload in housing, criminal and family courts causes delays, allows only unacceptably short time to be heard before a judge, results in multiple court appearances, and causes persistent disruption of work and home life which impacts litigants and their children and their families.
- The system makes it difficult to attain justice for low income and unrepresented people.
5. Matters that currently require multiple court appearances before different judges who then render separate decisions creates barriers to resolving difficult cases. The court system structure:
- Creates confusion among the people the courts are supposed to serve,
- Gives judges only partial ability to see the full picture of the case,
- Wastes time for litigants, which often results in loss of work and wages.
6. Many efforts have been made over the last 50 years to reform the court structure, however New York has not been able to change its system because of vested political interests.
The Real Impacts of Reform:
- Simplification would end a system created in the 19th century that works against equality and dignity for everyone who enters the courtroom.
- It would create a more streamlined court system that has the authority to better distribute resources and to provide them where they are needed the most, reduce court appearances and give all litigants a better and more equal justice system.
- Interrelated issues could be decided in one court.
- There would be more judges in civil and criminal courts, and more judges in the system overall.
- There would be opportunities for greater diversity and expertise in appellate courts.
- A 5 year implementation period would allow an orderly process for change.
- Court Administration could be standardized and streamlined.