OCA To Begin Publishing Criminal Case Data

By Christian Nolan

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Good afternoon Members,

During her weekly coronavirus update today, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that the New York State Unified Court System’s Division of Technology and Court Research will begin publishing monthly online statistical reports on misdemeanor and felony offenses and violations from courts across the state.

The Police Statistics and Transparency Act, in this instance the OCA STAT Act per Judiciary Law Section 212, requires law enforcement to disclose data on policing and its effects on communities. This information will be available in downloadable format on the Unified Court System’s website.

Without identifying the charged individuals, the reports will indicate a subject’s race, ethnicity, sex and age, as well as the location and precinct where the charged offense was alleged to have occurred. The report will also indicate the disposition of the matter, the sentence imposed, if any, and other relevant data.

“We are confident that the enhanced collection and publication of this data will greatly improve transparency regarding criminal case outcomes, aid our collective ability to identify and understand the points at which racial disparities may exist in the criminal justice system, and enable policymakers to pursue responsible and necessary reforms tied to the data,” said DiFiore.

Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts

Also, during her weekly address today, DiFiore discussed the latest reports from the Unified Court System’s Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts.

Last week, the commission’s Working Group on Regulatory Innovation issued a report proposing that trained and certified nonlawyer professionals, including social workers, be permitted to provide limited legal services to unrepresented litigants.

The working group also recommended that the court system expand its existing Court Navigators Program, which uses trained non-lawyer volunteers to help unrepresented litigants appearing in the New York City Housing Court and the New York City Civil Court’s Consumer Debt parts. Court navigators assist self-represented litigants in completing necessary forms, guide them through their court appearances and link them to court services and resources, such as language interpreters.

DiFiore said Edwina Mendelson, deputy chief administrative judge for Justice Initiatives who served on the working group, will lead the implementation efforts for the court system.

A second report from the commission’s Working Group on Appellate Practice draws on the recent lessons learned from the use of technology during the pandemic to come up with a set of initiatives to modernize the appellate courts over the coming months, including completing the transition to e-filing for all case types, moving away from locally maintained servers and data to

statewide cloud storage, completing the transition to Microsoft Teams, and creating a single statewide online system for the attorney grievance committees and attorney requests for certificates of good standing.

They have also recommended the creation of a single statewide appellate case management system for the Court of Appeals and all four departments of the Appellate Division.

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