< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: In Tiny Courts of N.Y., Abuses of Law and Power

Monday, September 25, 2006

In Tiny Courts of N.Y., Abuses of Law and Power


In today's edition of the New York Times, the paper begins a three part series looking at "justice" administered by small courts in New York state. The first part of the series is unbelievable and I never thought I would read about these types of "justice" occurring in present day America. I'm sure all of the articles in the series will be interesting, but you can click here to read the first part of the series. I'm sure there will be a link to the next two articles once they are available, but this is definitely worth reading. Here is just a small portion of the first article:

The New York Times spent a year examining the life and history of this largely hidden world, a constellation of 1,971 part-time justices, from the suburbs of New York City to the farm towns near Niagara Falls.

It is impossible to say just how many of those justices are ill-informed or abusive. Officially a part of the state court system, yet financed by the towns and villages, the justice courts are essentially unsupervised by either. State court officials know little about the justices, and cannot reliably say how many cases they handle or how many are appealed. Even the agency charged with disciplining them, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, is not equipped to fully police their vast numbers.

But The Times reviewed public documents dating back decades and, unannounced, visited courts in every part of the state. It examined records of closed disciplinary hearings. It tracked down defendants, and interviewed prosecutors and defense lawyers, plaintiffs and bystanders.

The examination found overwhelming evidence that decade after decade and up to this day, people have often been denied fundamental legal rights. Defendants have been jailed illegally. Others have been subjected to racial and sexual bigotry so explicit it seems to come from some other place and time. People have been denied the right to a trial, an impartial judge and the presumption of innocence.


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