New York State Courts: Their Structure, Administration and Reform Possibilities

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Johnstone, Quintin
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article description
The New York State court system is a big and complex organization with a large staff, substantial funding and massive caseloads. Despite its very considerable resources, it is believed by many to be inadequately funded given the quality of services it should be providing; and it quite obviously is structurally archaic. To improve the court system's effectiveness as the centerpiece justice agency in the state, many structural and administrative reforms in the system through the years have been proposed. Many of these reforms have been adopted but as demands on the system change, new reform proposals are made and some of the old ones revived with added support. Pressure for change is a continuing feature of court operations in New York as it is in most states and at the federal level as well.This article focuses on how the New York State court system is structured and administered and on some of the possibilities for structurally and administratively reforming the system. Without sufficient knowledge of how the system is organized and operated, reforms cannot be adequately understood or evaluated. Sequentially, coverage of the article is as follows: Part I, current structure and administration of the state court system in New York, noting some of the recent reforms that have been adopted; Part II, external controls and pressures that influence court reform possibilities; Part III, important recent reform proposals for New York State courts, not as yet adopted; Part IV, some other reform possibilities that have promise but little or no present support in New York; and Part V, concluding observations, stressing more serious problems facing the New York court system and prospects for their resolution.