Bronx Court Delays Defendants
May 11, 2016 by staff
Bronx Court Delays Defendants, Court delays in the Bronx – so troublesome that state officials had to create special courts to clear a backlog of felony cases – remain unresolved and have “fatally undermined the right to trial” for tens of thousands of people charged each year with low-level offenses, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
The suit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan and seeks class-action status, depicts a broken system in which hundreds of people arrive each morning and wait for hours or even a day for perfunctory court appearances.
Defendants often end up having to return to court repeatedly before their cases are dismissed or go to trial, according to the suit, which was filed by two law firms and the Bronx Defenders, which provides legal representation to poor people.
Robin Steinberg, the Bronx Defenders’ executive director, said delays for people charged with misdemeanors – the lawsuit’s focus – had only gotten worse in recent years. Last year, there were more than 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments in the Bronx, according to court statistics cited in the suit. Ms. Steinberg said the misdemeanor cases accounted for the vast majority of the people entering the system.
“We see the impact of intractable delays on the lives of our clients every day,” she said in an interview. “They suffer financially and psychologically – losing wages, missing school, scrambling to find child care.”
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