Everything you need to know about the epidemic of court delay in the Bronx
BY THE NUMBERS:
- As of January 3, 2016, there were 2,378 misdemeanor cases in the Bronx pending for over 365 days and 538 cases pending for over two years.
- In 2015, a year that saw over 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments, there were only 98 misdemeanor trials in the Bronx —a decrease of more than 40% from the number of trials in 2014.
- The few people who do manage to exercise their right to trial in the Bronx wait on average 642 days for a non-jury bench trial and an astonishing 827 days for a jury trial.
- In 2014, the average age of misdemeanor cases resolved in Bronx Criminal Court’s All Purpose Parts—the high-volume courtrooms that handle pre-trial matters—was 180 days, double the time contemplated by Unified Court System guidelines.
STARK DISPARITY IN THE BRONX:
- The wait for a jury trial in the Bronx is 99% higher than in Manhattan (414 days), 66% higher than in Brooklyn (496 days), and 48% higher than in Queens (558 days).
- In 2014, there were 50,703 misdemeanor arraignments in Bronx Criminal Court, significantly fewer than the number of case filings in Manhattan (72,069), Brooklyn (67,343), or Queens (53,508). Yet Bronx Criminal Court had 11,523 misdemeanor cases pending at the end of the year, compared to 10,596 in Brooklyn, 10,384 in Manhattan, and 8,043 in Queens.
- In December 2013, the last time citywide comparative data was publicly available, the Bronx had more misdemeanor cases pending in excess of one year (2,106) than the four other boroughs of New York City combined. These numbers are even more telling when compared to the respective borough’s pending caseload. In the Bronx, 14.5% of the pending cases were over a year old, compared to 4.9% in Manhattan, 5.3% in Brooklyn, and 4.1% in Queens.
- The Bronx is not only the poorest borough in New York City with the highest minority population but also the poorest county in the state.
- The South Bronx is the poorest Congressional district in the entire country.
A NATIONAL PROBLEM:
- It is difficult to find comparable data nationally on criminal court delay. What we have found shows that the Bronx is certainly not alone in experiencing delay.
- In North Carolina, for example, 16.5% of all pending misdemeanor cases were over 365 days old, and 7.7% were over 731 days old according to its 2014-2015 Judicial Report.
- In Downstate Illinois (all of Illinois excluding Chicago and its suburbs), 56% of pending misdemeanor cases were over one year old as of the end of 2014.
- Even in relatively more “efficient” states like Wisconsin, misdemeanor case disposition times are not in line with state guidelines. The guidelines say that only 5% of misdemeanor cases should be pending more than 180 days. As of the end of 2015, 19% of misdemeanor cases were pending beyond 180 days. It took 360 days—twice as long as the guidelines—before 95% of cases were resolved.
….and that is why we’ve brought this suit, Trowbridge v. Cuomo.