Advancing Justice and Equity in the New York State Courts: The Crucial Policymaker Role of the Next Chief Judge

The next Chief Judge of the State of New York can advance justice, equity, and community safety by fulfilling two critical leadership roles: (1) steering the Court of Appeals and interpreting state law in ways that safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers, including those vulnerable to discrimination and abuse; and (2) offering visionary policy initiatives forged from their values, driven by hard evidence, and made effective by partnering with other leaders and experts. 

While an adept administrator could shepherd impactful reforms extending to all corners of the State court system, this policy brief highlights four urgent issues regarding the pursuit of equal justice in the criminal courts. They are: (1) pretrial reform; (2) right to a speedy trial; (3) racial equity; and (4) Rikers Island (as well as jails statewide). This brief lays out these issues and provides specific recommendations to address them. These proposals offer a data-driven, collaborative, and transparent way to engage with these difficult issues and increase safety in the criminal justice system and our communities.