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September 25, 2006



According to a lawyer I know who practices in such courts, the Times overstates the problems with the judges because a complaint-driven article naturally finds the worst rather than the average judge. For the most part the courts act as revenue collectors for the state, passing along to Albany the ever-increasing state share of the fine for traffic violations. They handle the occasional civil or minor criminal case on the side. It's not a fair system, but overall it's not as malicious and incompetent as the article implies, and apparently the locals are happier to have locals running the show. There's an ongoing battle that could turn the whole financial aspect upside-down: state police have been ordered not to plea bargain traffic tickets, and that means a lot of towns are going to need to hire prosecutors or pay a judge to work a lot more hours to try traffic cases that would have been pled down to a parking ticket or some such under the old rules.


The traffic tickets don’t concern me, but there is the problem of people being set to jail without trial which there is no way around. Now, in realty, good lawyers would be able to seek extraordinary relief, and perhaps we are not getting all of the story, but some of the stories need to be fleshed out.

Probably the easiest solution is to give all parties an absolute right to remove a case to a “real” court (with a certain number of days of commencement).

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