Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts releases recommendations

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The state has lost millions of dollars in tax revenue this year related to the coronavirus pandemic. In response to a projected 10% in budget cuts, state agencies have been trying to find innovative ways to reduce spending costs.

State agencies have also been brainstorming ideas on how to deliver services safely. The Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts issued a report with its recommendations for the judiciary system.

“The initial recommendations outlined in the Commission’s report will greatly assist the Court System’s efforts to adopt and expand data-driven solutions that not only enhance the efficiency of our operations but also equip our courts to more effectively address the evolving justice needs of New Yorkers throughout the State, including our most vulnerable populations,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

Recommendations

  • Developing guidelines and principles that can be applied by judges when deciding what proceedings should be conducted virtually and how to conduct such proceedings; creating and disseminating training materials for each type of user, and having in place a system to process ongoing feedback and make continual improvements to virtual proceedings.
  • Redesigning the Unified Court System website to become a centralized court portal that helps litigants and attorneys more easily navigate the court system, including consolidating the various “eCourts” systems, standardizing the web pages of the different courts, and making it easier for users to look up their case and access the e-filing system, among other improvements.
  • Rolling out the Court System’s online small claims dispute resolution pilot in New York County, enhancing the small claims pilot and expanding it statewide, and developing online dispute resolution pilots for other case types, such as minor civil offenses, minor landlord-tenant matters, contract cases, and local neighborhood disputes.
  • Enacting legislation to allow the Chief Administrative Judge to institute e-filing on a mandatory basis in any or all of the State’s trial courts.
  • Exploration of grants and other external funding sources to help cover the up-front costs of these initiatives, which, if implemented will result in long-term savings.

“These proposals will help us build a highly-functioning virtual court system for New Yorkers, one that incorporates the latest technology to increase efficiency, promote the rule of law and advance the delivery of justice,” said Chair Henry Greenberg.

“Our recommendations will help establish an enduring online court system that will offer crucial remote accessibility during this unprecedented pandemic and beyond while ensuring that all participants in New York’s court system continue to have equal access to the justice they deserve,” said Brad S. Karp.

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