Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics



  • Judicial Selection is Crucial at Every Level

    Courtroom (photo: Governor's Office)

    As early as primary school, we are taught about the United States Constitution’s system of checks and balances, and that the judicial branch was created to temper the actions of the executive and legislative branches of government. We learn about the importance of an independent judiciary, but beyond that, the vast majority of us don't think about the role and function of judges unless we find ourselves involved in a court case. We need to be more keenly aware, nationally and at home, of the tremendous power the judiciary and

  • Divorce Got Easier During Covid; That Shouldn’t Change

    Brooklyn municipal building (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    A few months ago, in my role as a family attorney, I settled a fairly ugly child custody dispute in Queens Family Court. As my client and I debriefed, he asked me, “I probably saved some money with this being entirely online, huh?” I didn’t have to think twice. “Absolutely,” I told him. “At least a thousand dollars.”

    I was underestimating. After I did the math, I estimated that my client saved around $3,750 solely because the case was

  • Courts and Other Officials Must Act Now to Protect Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings

    Protect housing for the most vulnerable (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Five years ago, New Yorkbecame the first city in the country to create a right to counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. Unfortunately, this right is now being hollowed out by the combination of a recent explosion of eviction cases and a shortage of tenants’

  • Concerns Over Budget Cuts to State Court System Amid Massive Case Backlog

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    Gov. Cuomo and Chief Judge Difiore (photo: governor's office)

    Members of the New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee held a virtual hearing on Thursday to examine the impacts of a proposed $300 million cut to the state judiciary’s budget. The reduction, which represents a 10% cut to the court system’s $3 billion budget for the current fiscal year, was announced by the Office of Court Administration (OAC) in September in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s directive that all state entities reduce their budgets by 10% to mitigate the budgetary effects of economic

  • Little Support for De Blasio's Claim that Court Shutdown is Driving Gun Violence Surge

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    De Blasio and Shea discuss public safety (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)

    Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea are marooned on an island with few substantive details to sustain their claim that one of the biggest drivers of New York City's recent increase in gun violence is a pandemic-stalled court system.

    The two have repeatedly offered largely unsupported claims that the coronavirus-related suspension of grand juries and a slow-down in gun offense prosecutions has made the courts a major contributor to the surge in shootings throughout the

  • As Courts Reopen, Threat of ICE Returns: State Lawmakers Must Protect Our Neighbors

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    As courts in NY reopen, the role of ICE will be top of mind for many (photo: John McCarten/City Council)

    Courthouses in 30 upstate New York counties have begun the gradual process of restarting the state’s legal system. The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for due process and just how critical access to justice is for New York’s most vulnerable communities. There remain, however, significant barriers for many who desperately need their day in court.

    For years, ICE has preyed on non-citizens in and around our courthouses, using fear and intimidation to

  • Key Constitutional Obstacles to Efficient Reopening of New York Courts

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    Important challenges when New York courts reopen (photo: governor's office)

    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union

  • New York’s Asbestos Courts Need Transparency


    (photo: @NYSCourtsNews)

    New York’s asbestos litigation system is broken.

    Currently, a procedural loophole in the state’s laws allows a few politically-connected law firms to game the courts and win themselves massive attorneys’ fees by manipulating the truth of their clients’ exposure to asbestos -- intentionally misleading courts and bankruptcy trusts by obscuring the truth.

    When a victim of asbestos exposure decides to seek compensation, they can file claims in civil court against the companies they deem responsible, and also seek compensation from the trusts

  • Enhancing Fairness, Improving Outcomes: The Real Story of Problem-Solving Justice in New York

    red hook community justice center

    Red Hook Community Justice Center

    Do problem-solving courts prevent New Yorkers from receiving their basic constitutional rights? Are defendants forced to make a Faustian bargain, pleading guilty to avoid incarceration when they should be challenging the legality of their arrest?

    Steve Zeidman, a professor at CUNY School of Law, thinks so. In “The Treatment Court Cottage Industry & Its Unintended Consequence,” published