Assemblymember Lavine Announces Legislation to Modernize and Simplify the State Court System

Albany, New York – Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Charles D. Lavine (D-Glen Cove) is introducing proposals to achieve long-overdue reform and simplification of the state’s overly complicated court system. The initial announcement was made by New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore as part of her State of the Judiciary speech. Similar legislation is also being sponsored in the Senate, by Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan). The proposal, which requires a constitutional amendment to be enacted, consolidates New York’s major trial courts into the State Supreme Court, consolidates the trial courts of lesser jurisdiction (not including the Justice Courts) into a new statewide Municipal Court, and permits the Legislature, once every ten years, to adjust the number and boundaries of the appellate Judicial Departments. The new structure would enhance access to justice for low-income, non-white and long marginalized communities by untangling a labyrinthian system that is hundreds of years old. It also would save millions in legal costs for low-income litigants, provide a greater platform for the advancement and promotion of judges, and allow greater flexibility for judges to be assigned where needed.

"For generations, New York State has had one of the most archaic, complex, and bureaucratic court systems in the nation. The result has been a two-tiered system that creates radically different experiences for litigants depending on their racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds, and costs everyone time and money. We believe that after more than a half-century, the time for reform has finally come. Society demands that we master this moment and change this structure in order to ensure equal access to justice for all New Yorkers. I look forward to working with the members of the Assembly, the Senate, and the Chief Judge to push for first passage this year and advance the cause of equal justice for all,” Lavine said.