It is desirable that the trial of causes of action should take place under the public eye, not
because the controversies of one citizen with another are of public concern, but because it is
of the highest moment that those who administer justice should always act under the sense
of public responsibility, and that every citizen should be able to satisfy himself with his own
eyes as to the mode in which a public duty is performed.
Justice Oliver Wendell Homes
Cowley v. Pulsifer
137 Mass. 392, 294 (Mass. 1884)
The Fund for Modern Courts is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated
to improving the administration of justice in New York. Founded in 1955, and led by
concerned citizens, prominent lawyers, and leaders of the business community, Modern
Courts works to make the court system more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly for
all New Yorkers.
The centerpiece of Modern Courts' efforts is our groundbreaking citizen court
monitoring program, which gives citizens a powerful voice in how their court system is
run. Our monitors, who now number more than 600 in over a dozen counties throughout
New York State, have succeeded in obtaining numerous tangible improvements in the
state’s courts.
This report details the findings of student monitors from the City University of New York’s
John Jay College of Criminal Justice regarding the New York County Criminal Court. We
hope their recommendations will help to obtain improvements for the residents of New
York County that the court serves.
For additional information, please contact:
The Fund for Modern Courts, Inc.
351 West 54
New York, New York 10019
Telephone: (212) 541-6741
Fax: (212) 541-7301
E-Mail: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The comments and findings contained in this report are not to be construed
as an endorsement, either implied or express, of any candidate for any office. Any such
use is unauthorized by the Fund for Modern Courts.

THE PROJECT.......................................................................................................... 1
Court Monitoring in New York State ................................................................................1
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Partnership..............................................................2
II. THE CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK............................................... 3
New York County Branch .................................................................................................3
Appeals Process .................................................................................................................5
Criminal Court Judges .......................................................................................................5
III. JUDGES................................................................................................................... 7
Hon. A. Kirke Bartley, Jr...................................................................................................7
Hon. Gregory Carro ...........................................................................................................8
Hon. Ellen M. Coin............................................................................................................9
Hon. Matthew F. Cooper .................................................................................................10
Hon. William M. Harrington ...........................................................................................11
Hon. Gerald Harris...........................................................................................................12
Hon. Barbara Jaffe ...........................................................................................................13
Hon. Deborah Kaplan ......................................................................................................14
Hon. Eileen Koretz...........................................................................................................15
Hon. Suzanne M. Mondo.................................................................................................16
Hon. Laura A. Ward.........................................................................................................17
Hon. Richard M. Weinberg..............................................................................................18
IV. ATTORNEYS.......................................................................................................... 20
V. COURT PERSONNEL .............................................................................................. 23
VI. COURT FACILITIES................................................................................................ 26
VII. RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................................................................ 30
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..................................................................................................... 33
MONITORS...................................................................................................................... 34

Court Monitoring in New York State
The Fund for Modern Courts is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to
improving the administration of justice in New York State. Since 1975, Modern Courts has
sponsored court monitoring programs around the state, through which ordinary citizens observe and
evaluate their courts, report their findings, and issue public recommendations for improvement.
Today, groups of court monitors are active in 16 counties.
For over twenty-five years, court monitoring has been highly successful at achieving
numerous public-interest objectives, including:
publicizing problems that exist in the courts;
successfully urging those responsible for the courts to make improvements,
particularly in how the courts serve the public and how their personnel treat
the public; and
educating citizens about the daily functions and operation of their courts;
thereby creating a constituency of citizens who understand the problems
facing the courts and who are supportive of the courts' efforts to function
efficiently and effectively.
Monitors are non-lawyer volunteers who have a sincere interest in the efficient operation of
their local courts. They look at the courts from an outsider's viewpoint, thereby providing a fresh,
common-sense perspective on how the courts can be improved. During the monitoring project,
these volunteers observe proceedings in a particular court for a period of several months, and
complete forms designed to help them to evaluate all aspects of the court's performance, ranging
from the demeanor of the judges to the physical conditions under which the court operates. Modern
Courts then publishes the monitors' findings in a detailed report, which is sent to the judges and
court personnel observed, the administrators of the state court system, state and local legislators, the
news media, and other interested parties.
Modern Courts' citizen court monitoring program has been influential in solving many of
the problems that ordinary citizens face in the courts. Monitors' comments:
have aided in the establishment of in-court child care facilities in numerous
courthouses across the State.
led to the implementation of a "staggered" calendar, modeled directly on
monitors' recommendations, which has drastically reduced both waiting time
and overcrowding.
have led to a renewed commitment to courthouse upkeep by local governments.

Monitors’ findings were also influential in the State Office of Court Administration’s
decision to introduce a mandatory "civility training" program for all non-judicial court personnel.
On a larger scale, monitors' reports were instrumental in encouraging the State legislature to
pass the Court Facilities Act of 1987, which has led to construction of desperately needed new court
facilities around the State. In the Third Judicial District, for example, the county converted an old
jail facility into a new courthouse for the Rensselaer County Family Court. The court opened in
1998, replacing a deplorable facility that had been criticized by monitors in several reports. Other
new courthouses are scheduled for construction over the next several years. Monitors' reports also
influenced recent reforms to make jury service less burdensome.
Overall, citizen court monitoring has improved communication between citizens and the
judiciary, heightened the court system's sensitivity to public needs, and helped to ensure that
those needs are met.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Partnership
This monitoring project marked the second collaboration between the City University of
New York (CUNY), the Office of Court Administration, and Modern Courts. Modern Courts
expanded its pool of citizen court monitors by designing a program whereby students from two
court administration and processes courses served as court monitors as a fieldwork component of
their coursework. As part of this partnership, the Office of Court Administration supplemented
the student’s fieldwork with a series of regularly scheduled lectures by judges and court
personnel. This project, involving students from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was
conducted during the spring 2002 semester. As part of their coursework, each student made four
observations during the semester of the Criminal Court proceedings. The students added a young
and diverse voice to the court monitors, and presented a perspective on the court that is too
seldom heard.
This report is based on a total of 138 observations made by 37 student monitors between
March, 2002 and May, 2002.

In all five counties (or boroughs), the Criminal Court of the City of New York has
jurisdiction over all misdemeanors and violations, as well as the preliminary stages of felony
cases. Each county has its own branch of the Criminal Court.
In the early 1990s, the Criminal Court experienced a substantial increase in its caseload.
In 1993, Criminal Court in all five branches filings totaled 276,401. By 1998, there were
394,428 total filings in the Criminal Court. Thus, filings jumped an astonishing 42% in five
years. In recent years, the total number of filings has slowly declined with 324,679 filings in
2002 and 321,959 filings in 2003.
The New York County Branch
The New York County Branch of the Criminal Court of the City of New York is divided
into multiple parts. There are seven “arraignment parts,” in which defendants are informed of
the charges against them. One of these is located at the Midtown Community Court. There is
also one “Desk Appearance Ticket Part” (DAT part). A police officer who charges a defendant
with a violation may give the defendant a “desk appearance ticket,” which specifies the date and
time that the defendant is to appear in court. These cases are routed to the DAT part.
After arraignment, felony cases are sent to the Criminal Branch of the Supreme Court.
Cases in which the defendants are accused of misdemeanors remain in the Criminal Court, and if
a “not guilty” plea is entered at arraignment, they are usually sent to one of the court’s “all-
purpose” (AP) parts. There are also “hearing parts,” where pre-trial matters, such as pleas,
discovery, and motions, are heard.
In the Criminal Court, most cases are settled before trial, either by negotiated pleas or by
dismissal. Cases that are not resolved in the AP parts are sent to one of the trial parts. One of
these trial parts has been dedicated to hearing domestic violence cases. In 1998, a post-judgment
compliance part was also established to monitor defendants’ adherence to the conditions of their
sentences in domestic violence cases. There is also has a misdemeanor drug treatment court that
provides post-plea supervised treatment to non-violent offenders.
Midtown Community Court
The Midtown Community Court was launched in 1993 to target quality-of-life offenses,
such as prostitution, illegal vending, graffiti, shoplifting, fare-beating and vandalism. The
Midtown Community Court sentences low-level offenders to community service while at the
same time offering them help with problems such as drug addiction and lack of employment.
Residents, businesses and social service agencies collaborate with the court by supervising
community service projects and by providing on-site social services, including drug treatment,
health care and job training. In 1999, the court began to hear small claims cases.


Total Filings in the Criminal Court of New York City and the New York
County Branch (1993-2003)
NYC Criminal Court Filings
New York County Criminal Court Filings
The Criminal Court’s caseload exploded in the early 1990s; the caseload of the New York
County Branch mirrored the city-wide trend. In 1993, a total of 104,390 cases were filed in the
New York County Branch. By 1998, that number of filings stood at 131,692, representing an
increase of 26 percent from 1993. In 2002, the year that the monitoring occurred, filings in New
York County declined to 101,330; in 2003, that number remained relatively steady at 99,889 filings.

Appeals Process
Appeals from the Criminal Court are heard in the Appellate Term of Supreme Court.
(The Appellate Term has been established by the Appellate Division of Supreme Court to hear
appeals from the First and Second Departments only.) Appeals from the Appellate Term are
heard by the Appellate Division. Further appeals are brought before the Court of Appeals, New
York’s court of last resort.
Criminal Court Judges
Eligibility: To be eligible for a Criminal Court judgeship, one must be a member of the
bar for at least ten years, and must be a resident of the City of New York.
Method of Selection: The Mayor of the City of New York appoints the Criminal Court
of the City of New York judges.
Since 1978, New York City Mayors have adhered voluntarily to a “merit selection”
process for the appointment of Criminal Court judges, Family Court judges, and interim Civil
Court judges in New York City. This merit-based appointment process was established by
executive order, which can be altered at will by the mayor. The executive order also created the
Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, which screens judicial candidates. The mayor
appoints the Committee’s members, ten of whom are appointed based upon the
recommendations of the Presiding Justices of the First and Second Departments and the deans of
two New York City law schools. However, the mayor retains the right to veto their selections.
For each vacant judgeship, the Committee nominates the three most qualified candidates; before
the names are sent to the mayor, the Committee on the Judiciary of the Association of the Bar of
the City of New York evaluates the candidates and rates them “approved” or “not approved,”
which the mayor may take into consideration in making his selection. The mayor then appoints
one of the three candidates approved by his Advisory Committee.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s merit appointment executive order -- modeled on those
issued by Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani - adheres to the process described above. His
Executive Order provides that the Mayor will not appoint anyone to the bench who is not
recommended by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. The current executive order
stipulates that a minority of the committee’s members are named by the mayor while the
remaining members are appointed by the Chief Judge, the two presiding justices in New York
City, and two law school deans who are selected on a rotating basis.
Thus far, all of the judges appointed and reappointed, during the Bloomberg
administration, have also been found qualified by the Judiciary Committee of the Association of
the Bar of the City of New York, and were approved by Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs Carol
Robles-Román, Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo and Criminal Justice Coordinator John

Salaries and Tenure: New York City Criminal Court judges currently earn an annual
salary of $125,600. They are appointed to ten-year terms, and may serve until the mandatory
retirement age of 70. When a judge, for any reason, leaves office before completing his or her
term, the Mayor appoints an interim judge to serve the remainder of that term.
Assignment of Judges: The New York City Criminal Court Act statutorily restricts the
number of Criminal Court judges to 107. However, nearly half of the judges appointed to the
Criminal Court actually serve as “Acting Supreme Court Justices.”
New York State law limits the number of Supreme Court justices to one per every 50,000
people. However, in New York City, the Criminal Branch of Supreme Court handles a heavy
felony caseload, which requires the services of more justices than allotted by current state law.
Thus, many judges of the Criminal Court are commonly designated “Acting Supreme Court
justices” to hear felony cases. During this monitoring project, fewer than half of the 107 judges
appointed to the Criminal Court were actually serving in the Criminal Court and several Civil
Court Judges were assigned to the Criminal Court to compensate for the “loss” of those Criminal
Court judges transferred to Supreme Court.

Following are the student monitors' evaluations of judges that they observed on five or
more opportunities during their monitoring project of the Criminal Court of the City of New
York in New York County.
Please note that the monitors did not evaluate the judges' decisions or legal knowledge.
Rather, they focused on their overall demeanor, including their treatment of defendants,
attorneys, and jurors; their professionalism including their clarity of explanations, efficiency, and
thoroughness; their ability to maintain control of the courtroom; and their audibility.
This section is a summary of the monitors' findings. The Criminal Court judges observed
by the students during this project are listed alphabetically by last name.
Hon. A. Kirke Bartley, Jr.
Hon. A. Kirke Bartley is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and St.
John’s University School of Law. From 1978 to 1979, he was an associate at the office of
Edward J. Ledogar. He served as an Assistant District Attorney for Queens County from 1980 to
1997. In 1997, he was appointed to the Criminal Court of the City of New York by Mayor
Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Five different monitors made five observations of Judge Bartley during this project.
Demeanor and Professionalism
Monitors described Judge Bartley as a "patient" and "fair" judge and generally praised his
handling of both attorneys and jurors. One monitor noted, “When he spoke to the attorneys, he
spoke to them very professionally” and allowed "the assistant district attorneys to present their
cases" without interruption. Another praised his explanation of the trial process to the jurors:
“Before the jury went out to their break, he explained to them why they were there and what was
their purpose in the trial.”
One monitor praised the judge for not allowing an unnecessary delay during the trial that
the monitor observed. This monitor stated, “The judge did not want further delays” because the
jury had already expressed their “displeasure with the constant delays.”
Command of Courtroom
Several monitors observed Judge Bartley in a jury part and felt that “he was able to
maintain control of the courtroom.”

One monitor observed him in an arraignment part and felt that "he had no control over
the courtroom including the court personnel." This monitor felt that "There was no consideration
[shown] for defendants and guest[s] of the courts when he allowed the noise to continue." The
monitor added, "He should make it clear that noise is not tolerated [and] there is no cell phone
use in the courtroom."
Monitors found that Judge Bartley spoke softly but could usually be heard. One monitor
observed, “Judge Bartley’s audibility was fine. He was clear but not that loud.” Another observer
noted that his voice was "very low despite the fact that he was using a microphone."
Hon. Gregory Carro
Hon. Gregory Carro is a graduate of Buffalo State College and Rutgers School of Law.
From 1985 to 1998, he was an Assistant District Attorney for New York County. In 1998, he
received an appointment to the Criminal Court of the City of New York from Mayor Rudolph W.
Six different monitors made six observations of Judge Carro during this project.
Monitors generally praised Judge Carro's demeanor on the bench. One monitor
commented, “He looked like he wanted to be there, like he enjoys his job” This monitor noted,
“He even smiled, on occasion as he passed entering and leaving the room. He seemed to be
trying to make people comfortable.”
Judge Carro specifically received praise for his attentiveness. One monitor noted, “He
didn’t busy himself with things on the bench but listened attentively.” Another observer noted,
"The judge kept eye contact with defendants and the lawyers present.”
One monitor recounted an incident where Judge Carro "exercised a lot of patience with a
mentally ill defendant who was exhibiting inappropriate behavior in the courtroom." The monitor
observed, at first, "the judge seemed not to pay much attention to her although she was
screaming out over his voice while he was conducting proceedings in other cases. After about 25
minutes of everyone having to listen to this apparently mentally ill woman the judge looked over
to where she was sitting. He then calmly listened to her and told her that he would call her case
as soon as he could. All in all he was very patient with her and treated her with courtesy, dignity
and professionalism, even though she had been disrupting the courtroom during the arraignments
of other cases."

One monitor praised Judge Carro's for the thoroughness of his explanations: “He didn’t
speed through his rulings. He made them, repeated them and also asked more than once if the
defendant understood his decision and if they needed him to be clearer.”
One monitor reported that "the judge was very late, and he did not explain why."
Command of Courtroom
Monitors generally found that Judge Carro had "fairly good control of the courtroom."
One monitor stated, "He seemed to have control of the courtroom because there was a lot of
speaking and he just looked at the court officer and he quieted [the courtroom] down."
Monitors generally described Judge Carro as "audible."
Hon. Ellen M. Coin
Hon. Eileen Coin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York
University School of Law. From 1972 to 1977, she was an assistant district attorney in the Kings
County District Attorney’s Office. From 1977 to 1980, she served as a Special Attorney for the
United States Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Strike Force for the Eastern District of
New York. From 1980 to 1986, she was first an associate and then a partner at Shapiro &
Schwartz. She served as a partner at the law firm of Graubard Mollen & Miller from 1989 to
1997. In May, 1998, she received an interim appointment from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to
the Civil Court of the City of New York, and was subsequently assigned to the Criminal Court of
the City of New York.
Four monitors made nine observations of Judge Coin during this project.
Monitors described Judge Coin as "polite" and "patient." Monitors found that "her
presence was not intimidating like some judges" and that Judge Coin "was more patient than I
Judge Coin received praise from the monitors for her treatment of those in her courtroom
including defendants. The monitors noted that "Judge Coin [showed] a lot of respect for others in

the court" and that "when dealing with defendants she at times seemed sympathetic." One
monitor praised her because "she offered the defendants the time to speak and actually seemed
like she was listening when they did say something." Another noted that she was "sure to ask the
defendants if there was anything she said which they did not understand."
Monitors generally felt that "Judge Coin conducted herself professionally." They found
that "all rulings and proceedings were explained" and "clear [and] concise and straight to the
point." In addition to making clear explanations, "Judge Coin made sure [that] the defendant
understood the ruling very clearly.
Command of the Courtroom
Monitors felt that Judge Coin did not attempt to maintain control of the courtroom. One
monitor observed, ”There seemed to be no control over the courtroom when others [including]
court employees were speaking while proceedings took place.” Another monitor noted that
"there were people talking in the [courtroom]" but attributed this to the fact that "the judge was
too busy to hear or intervene."
Monitors found that Judge Coin "spoke loudly and clearly."
Hon. Matthew F. Cooper
Judge Cooper did not respond to Modern Courts’ request for biographical information.
Seven monitors made eight observations of Judge Cooper during this project.
Monitors repeatedly referred to Judge Cooper as "patient." One monitor commented,
“He was patient; he let counsel explain their points without interruption.”
Several monitors also noted that Judge Cooper was "very respectful to others" in the
Several observers also commented on Judge Cooper's jovial disposition on several
occasions. One monitor noted, "He seemed to be in a good mood;" another observed him
“making jokes with other court personnel” while waiting for cases to be called. However, on
occasion, monitors felt that “the judge looked like he was tired” or "bored" usually during delays
in the proceedings.

Several monitors stated that Judge Cooper “conducted himself professionally."
Particularly notable to the monitors were his "thorough and clear" explanations.
Command of the Courtroom
Several monitors felt that Judge Cooper did not consistently maintain control of the
courtroom. One monitor found, "In the courtroom, there was lot of noise. There were cell
phones ringing and radios of the [court] officers that [appeared] to disturb the judge. After about
the fifth interruption the judge raised his voice and said, 'turn all phones off.' Another monitor
made a similar observation: "I do think that he could have had better control of the courtroom. I
think that he should [have] told those in the court[room] to be more quiet. When I first sat down I
was in the back and it was very hard for me to hear [the proceedings] I moved up to the third
Monitors generally found that Judge Cooper was audible. One monitor reported, “The
judge had a clear voice.” Another found, “his audibility was good. I could [hear] him all the way
in the back of the courtroom.” However, one monitor felt that “the judge spoke softly at the start
of the court session" but noted that "after a few calendar calls his audibility improved.”
Hon. William M. Harrington
Hon. William Harrington is a graduate of Tufts University and George Washington
University Law School. From 1989 to 1996, he was a prosecutor in the Kings County District
Attorney’s Office. He served as law clerk to the Hon. Albert Tomei. In 2001, he received an
interim appointment to the Criminal Court from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and was reappointed
to a full term by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2002.
Twelve monitors made thirteen observations of Judge Harrington during this project.
Demeanor and Professionalism
Monitors described Judge Harrington as "polite," "patient," and “respectful towards
everyone.” One monitor described his "demeanor as that of an experienced justice.” Another
felt that “He was able to give defendants a sense of respect.”
Monitors praised Judge Harrington's interactions with defendants. One monitor felt that
the "judge was fair [when he] lengthened the [period allowed] to pay a fine because the
defendant’s wife just gave birth and he had to pay rent.” Another monitor noted, the “judge
seemed very concerned about whether an offenders' plea was voluntary or not, and whether they

understood the nature of their crime.” However, another monitor expressed concerns about the
manner in which the judge read the sentence in one case. The monitor stated, “The judge read the
sentence in a monotone fashion and quickly. I don’t think that the defendant can absorb all that
Command of the Courtroom
The monitors generally reported that Judge Harrington did not maintain control of the
courtroom. Monitors found that “the crowd was unruly and disrespectful” and the courtroom
was "out of control because many people who were there to listen made too much noise.” One
monitor asserted, “The judge did not use his authority effectively in the courtroom. People were
talking while he was, and he continued to talk without requesting that they be quiet. This made it
extremely difficult for me to hear him.” However, one monitor observed, “People coming into
courtroom with headphones or bandanas and the judge of course told them to leave.”
Monitors found it difficult to hear Judge Harrington during the proceedings because "he
spoke softly" and "he was speaking over the other …voices” including those of the court
Hon. Gerald Harris
Hon. Gerald Harris is a graduate of the City College of the City University of New York
and New York University School of law. From 1962 to 1964, he was an Assistant District
Attorney for New York County, and from 1966 to 1967, he served as General Counsel for the
New York City Department of Buildings. Judge Harris was in private practice from 1967 to 1974
and from 1977 to 1995. From 1974 to 1977, he was the County Attorney for Westchester
County. Prior to taking the bench, he was Executive Director of the Commission to Combat
Police Corruption from 1995 to 1996 and, from1996 to 2000, served as the Deputy
Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services. In 2000, he received an
appointment to the Criminal Court of the City of New York from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Nine different monitors made nine observations of Judge Harris during this project.
Monitors described Judge Harris as an "experienced" and "calm" judge. One monitor
was particularly "impressed by his humanistic attitude” after observing that “he spoke to the
defendant himself about getting help in a program with the court’s help or own his own.”

Several monitors noted that Judge Harris “explained to the defendant’s their rights and
the consequences of their pleas fully.” As one monitor put it, “there was a clear explanations as
to what was going on with the defendant and what would happen right after there was a
Several monitors found that proceedings in Judge Harris' courtroom were somewhat
routine in nature. This monitor stated, "I felt that this judge has been on the bench for a few
years and feels he doesn't have to impress anyone. After he made his decision, it was on to the
next case." Another agreed noting that Judge Harris "did not show any signs that he was in a
rush" but was "dragging" through each case.
Command of the Courtroom
The monitors reported that Judge Harris “did not demonstrate any signs of control of the
courtroom.” One monitor observed, “Court officers were joking in front of him and nothing was
said.” Another monitor commented, “I also found it odd that judge did not demand that his staff
act in a professional manner.” Yet another monitor felt, “He was very passive despite the fact
that the majority of the noise that was being [made] came from the two desks that were near the
judges' bench and attorneys that were using their cell phones in the courtroom.”
Although monitors generally found that Judge Harris spoke "clearly,” “there was way too
much noise in the courtroom whether it was someone using the stapler or folding their
newspaper over it was virtually impossible to hear the judge.”
Hon. Barbara Jaffe
Hon. Barbara Jaffe is a graduate of Syracuse University and Brooklyn Law School. From
1984 to 1986, she was an Associate Appellate Counsel for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal
Appeals Bureau. From 1986 to 1993, he was the Principal Court Attorney to the Hon. Jay Gold,
and, from 1993 to 2002, she was the Principal Court Attorney to the Hon. Marcy Kahn. From
1990 to 2002, she also served as an arbitrator in the Small Claims Part of the Civil Court of New
York. In 2002, she was elected to the Civil Court of the City Of New York and subsequently
assigned to the Criminal Court of the City of New York.
Ten monitors made eleven observations of Judge Jaffe during this project.
Monitors described Judge Jaffe as "enthusiastic" and "very thorough." One monitor
noted that “she looked interested” in the proceedings. Another noted that “she had a dignified

demeanor and all of the officers treated her accordingly.” Yet another monitor noted, “She
wasn’t disrespectful” to defendants “the judge wished them good luck after the arraignment
ended for their individual cases.”
Monitors felt that Judge Jaffe has “a very fair attitude” and "took time with each case to
ensure the defendant was fairly treated." For instance, she “allow[ed] defendants time to decide
whether to take the plea offer” and "was patient in waiting for their answers.”
Monitors also noted that Judge Jaffe was fair to attorneys. One monitor observed, “She
always wanted to know if the defense attorneys or the prosecutor had anything to add.” Another
noted, “She consults with counsel to ensure that she has a proper understanding of their
Monitors described Judge Jaffe as "professional." She received praise because “she
explained the rulings and procedures clearly to the defendants.” For instance, when she issued
an order of protection, “she thoroughly explained to defendants exactly what was required from
the defendant.”
Command of the Courtroom
In general, the monitors found that Judge Jaffe had "good control" of the courtroom but
one monitor felt that Judge Jaffe "needed to keep the courtroom quiet." One monitor
disapprovingly noted, “She allowed the officers to eat and drink in her courtroom.”
Monitors generally felt that Judge Jaffe “needed to be more audible” because she had a
“low voice.” However, one monitor observed that “the judge was not very audible in the
beginning but as the evening progressed I was able to hear her much clearer.”
Hon. Deborah Kaplan
Hon. Deborah Kaplan is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and
St. John’s University School of Law. From 1986 to 1997, she was an attorney in the Criminal
Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in Kings County. From 1997 to 2000, she served as
Principal Court Attorney for the Hon. Juanita Bing Newton, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge
for Justice Initiatives. She later was the Chief Management Analyst and Project Counsel for the
Hon. Joseph J. Traficanti, Jr., Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the State of New York.
She was also an arbitrator for the Small Claims Part of the Civil Court of New York from 1993
to 2002. In November 2001, she was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York and
subsequently assigned to the Criminal Court.

Nine monitors made ten observations of Judge Kaplan during this project.
Monitors described Judge Kaplan as a "very patient" judge who was "respectful” to
defendants. One monitor noted, “The judge was extremely patient. She took time in evaluating
cases and allowed the defendants and lawyers time” to discuss their cases. Another monitor
praised, “She gave people options" thereby allowing them to choose one that "best suited” their
One monitor specifically praised Judge Kaplan’s patient explanation of the proceedings
to a defendant who was a recent immigrant “who did not know the American legal system.” The
monitor observed that “the defendant was crying and felt overwhelmed by the court” and “the
judge advised the defendant that she had rights…throughout the court process.”
According to the monitors, Judge Kaplan's “professionalism was very apparent" in her
"efficient” and “very prepared" handling of her caseload. One monitor noted that Judge Kaplan
"explained what was happening so that not only the defendant could understand but also the
spectators in the courtroom.”
Command of Courtroom
Monitors found that Judge Kaplan generally "had control of the courtroom.” One
monitor observed, “the courtroom was crowded with defendants and spectators as well as
counsel but the court officers were strict in controlling the noise level.”
The monitors found it difficult to hear Judge Kaplan. One monitor found, “Judge Kaplan
was [for] the most part inaudible.” Another stated, “I could not hear Judge Kaplan because the
police officers, court officers and [other] court staff was talking louder than the judge. I would
recommend that the judges use the microphone to project their voices.” Another monitor added,
“I think that Judge Kaplan could have spoken a bit louder.”
Hon. Eileen Koretz
Hon. Eileen Koretz is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of
Baltimore School of Law. She was an assistant district attorney in Bronx County from 1976 to
1995. In December, 1995, she was appointed to the Criminal Court of the City of New York by
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Judge Koretz presides in the Midtown Community Court.

Eight monitors made ten observations of Judge Koretz during this project.
Monitors described Judge Koretz as "very patient” but "very focused" judge. One
monitor noted, she got "straight to the point" when dealing with defendants and others in the
courtroom. Another observed, “Judge Koretz had a lot of sympathy for some defendants
especially in the last case [involving] a cocaine addict” who “Judge Koretz warned that if she
doesn’t reach out for help she is hurting her child." However, the monitor also noted that "she
did tell the defendant that if she violates rehab [guidelines] she must serve a minimum of 6
months in prison.” Another monitor also observed that “she clearly warned [other] defendants if
they violated the proposed sentence they would serve a prison sentence.”
Monitors repeatedly commented on how "patient" Judge Koretz was when necessary.
One monitor reported, “She was patient with the attorneys when they would confer with their
clients.” Another observer recounted another example of Judge Koretz's patience. “There was a
defendant who was screaming about not wanting to go back to prison. The judge was very
patient in dealing with the defendant. Judge Koretz allowed the defendant to speak even though
he was babbling. The judge was calm and appeared interested in what she was hearing from the
One monitor found that "she would help the attorneys by explaining alternate routes for
them to go to help their clients.”
Monitors praised Judge Koretz's professionalism. They found that “the judge presented
herself very professionally” and “showed a great deal of professionalism while proceedings were
in session.” She “made sure the defendants understood their sentence before they were
dismissed even when she had to explain it …twice” and “she [still] moved the cases along.”
Command of Courtroom
Monitors found that “the judge had total control of the courtroom with the assistance of
the court officers.” One monitor observed, when Judge Koretz sat down it immediately became
quiet.” Another observer noted, “Judge Koretz did come down on the defendants if they spoke
out of turn.”
The monitors agreed that “Judge Koretz spoke clear and loud” and had a “loud and clear”
voice. As one monitor put it, “You could hear her from all seats throughout the courtroom.

Hon. Suzanne M. Mondo
Judge Mondo did not respond to Modern Courts’ request for biographical information.
Eight monitors made eight observations of Judge Mondo during this project.
Judge Mondo was described as a "thoughtful" and "considerate" judge who “showed
respect for everyone in the courtroom.” One monitor praised, “The judge has clearly been on the
bench for awhile. She is strictly professional and truly comfortable on the bench.”
However, one monitor who observed Judge Mondo felt that she “was a little snappy
when talking to attorneys” one day which led the monitor to conclude that “It just seemed as if
today was not a good day.”
Monitors generally praised Judge Mondo's explanations as "very clear." One monitor was
particularly impressed that she “gave this one guy [who hadn’t appeared for his arraignment] a
good explanation of why he doesn’t have an attorney.”
Command of Courtroom
Several of the monitors felt that Judge Mondo "did not have much control over the
courtroom.” One monitor “was however shocked that the judge didn’t demand order in the
courtroom. I do acknowledge that the judge is sitting on the bench day in and day out but still if
you don’t stop bad behavior it will just snowball.”
Although the majority of the monitors found that Judge Mondo was audible, several felt
that they could not hear Judge Mondo clearly. One monitor suggested, “Everyone especially the
judge should speak up. I felt that I was watching everything on mute.”
Hon. Laura A. Ward
Hon. Laura A. Ward is a graduate of Vassar College and Fordham University School of
Law. From 1978 to 1983, she was an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP.
From 1983 to 1988, she was a special assistant for the Organized Crime and Racketeering
Section for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and she served as
Chief of the Investor Protection and Security Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s
Office from 1988 to 1989. From 1989 to 1997, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, assigned to
the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section in the United States Attorney’s Office for the

Eastern District of New York. In May, 1997, she was appointed to the Criminal Court bench by
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Five monitors made seven observations of Judge Ward in the drug court that she presided
over during this project.
Monitors found that Judge Ward was “patient,” “very knowledgeable,” “very involved,”
and “seemed concerned about [defendants] and their status.” One monitor noted that Judge Ward
“scheduled numerous case updates” which the monitor felt “illustrated her concern.” Another
monitor noted, “She was encouraging to defendants by congratulating them on their
achievements” in their drug treatment programs. Another monitor observed: “She would smile
when she address each defendant respectfully as she spoke about their positive progress. She
would call the person up to the bench and would shake their hand [while] giving them a
certificate for having completed a certain amount of time in a program.”
Monitors described Judge Ward as “very professional” and “well prepared.” One
monitor praised, “Judge Ward was very clear when explaining to the defendants their rights and
their progress in their treatment programs.” Another observer noted, “Judge Ward was very
efficient in moving cases along – sentenced some to drug treatment programs, asked some clients
about their last use to ensure that the program was right for him/her.”
Command of the Courtroom
Monitors found that Judge Ward “maintained control of the courtroom” even “when an
outburst occurred.” One monitor praised, Judge Ward “controlled the court by asking those
present in the court to be quiet when she needed to talk or it was too noisy.”
Monitors generally found that “Judge Ward was audible and clear.”
Hon. Richard M. Weinberg
Hon. Richard M. Weinberg is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and George
Washington University Law School. From 1975 to 1977, he served as a law clerk for United States
District Court Judge, Hon. Henry Bramwell, Eastern District of New York. He also received a
LLM from New York University in 1978. From 1981 to 1989, he served as an Assistant Attorney
General for New York State. From 1989 to 2001, he served as General Counsel and Counsel to the

Speaker of the New York City Council. In December, 2001, he was appointed to the Criminal
Court bench by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Five monitors made five observations of Judge Weinberg during this project.
Monitors described Judge Weinberg as a “very relaxed” judge. One monitor stated that
he “surprised me by being so relaxed.” Another judge noted that he “was different from other
judges I observed in the past. He was polite, and smiled a lot.”
One monitor felt, “He was patient - making sure that the clients/defendants understood
everything before he moved on even when he was in disagree[ment] with [their] behavior …he
[would] still smile [when] relaying his point.” However, another monitor felt, “The judge did
not have too much patience at times; at times he seemed rushed.”
Monitors felt that Judge Weinberg generally “acted in a professional manner” and that he
conducted proceedings in a “clear and straightforward” manner. One monitor noted, His
“explanations of rulings were very clear” and sometimes he “repeated them for a second time.”
Command of the Courtroom
Monitors found that Judge Weinberg generally did not have control of the courtroom.
One monitor reported, “The judge barely had control over the courtroom. All the personnel from
counsel to officers were very disrespectful.” Another monitor observed, “The judge called for
silence two times and on the third try he banged on the bench.” One monitor concluded, after
sitting through a session in Judge Weinberg’s courtroom, “The judge needed to take full control
of the courtroom.”
Judge Weinberg was generally audible, according to the monitors. One monitor praised,
“Judge Weinberg spoke loud enough for me to hear. I was surprised that I could hear him
[because] usually when I visit arraignments I’m not able to hear.” However, another monitor
found that although “the judge was audible in the beginning but [he] became inaudible” later in
the proceedings.

During their observations of the Criminal Court, the student monitors observed assistant
district attorneys (ADAs) from the New York County District Attorney's Office, who were
responsible for prosecuting cases in the Criminal Court. In addition, monitors observed Legal
Aid Society attorneys, other assigned counsel such as 18-b attorneys, and privately retained
attorneys, who represented the defendants. The monitors commented on their conduct including
the adequacy of their representation, level of preparation, and audibility in the courtroom.
Quality of Representation
Some attorneys, particularly defense attorneys, received praise from the monitors for
their ardent presentation of their cases. One monitor commented, “I felt that the attorneys from
the Legal Aid Society worked arduously and effectively to handle the defendants’ cases and get
good plea bargains.” Another monitor found that the attorneys from Legal Aid that the monitor
observed were “very into the clients that they were defending. They were prepared and talked to
their clients about what they want[ed] to do and what will be more comfortable for them.” A
third monitor agreed with this assessment: “The attorneys from Legal Aid … even [though] they
have so many cases, they do their best to make sure their clients have a say in court.” One
monitored wrote, “I had the pleasure” of watching two legal Aid Lawyers, Deborah Wright and
Jim Harris “in action.” The monitor described, “Deborah Wright was very professional and
methodical” and “Jim Harris was a boisterous” advocate.
Some monitors also praised the ADAs. One monitor noted that some “showed a great
deal of passion towards doing [their] job.”
Treatment of Defendants
Defense attorneys generally received praise for their treatment of defendants and others
in the courtroom. Monitor noted that defense attorneys “seemed concerned.” One monitor
observed, “The attorneys [legal aid and 18-b] took time to speak with their clients right before
representing them as well as speaking with the [client’s] family members or friends who came to
support them.” Another monitor praised, “There was one defense attorney who stood out from
everyone else. He seemed to care about the individuals he was defending.” Another monitor
made a similar observation, noting, “One woman [attorney who] seemed to care and was trying
to [relate] on a personal level with her client so she could help him.” One monitor even
witnessed, “One [defense attorney] even gave his client a token to get home with.”
One monitor expressed concern about public nature of communications between lawyers
and defendants: “I believe [that] they could have been more discrete in the way they spoke to the
defendants and families in front of the public.”

Investment in the Proceedings
Monitors also observed attorneys who appeared tired or disinterested in the proceedings.
One monitor noted, “Legal Aid attorneys looked tired but they were communicating fairly [well]
with their clients, I still think that they needed more enthusiasm.” Another observer agreed with this
assessment, noting, “there was not a serious adversarial behavior exhibited by the Legal Aid
lawyers or the Assistant District Attorneys. The lawyers were talking among themselves or they
were talking on the phone [or] drinking from [their] water bottle.” Another student monitor
observed, one “attorney [who] did her job in such a mundane way [that it] seemed liked such a
boring” job. Another monitor commented, “When it came close to the end of the cases that were
going to be heard, the lawyers on both sides were ready to get out of there.”
Monitors were troubled by the lack of preparation by many attorneys before they
appeared in the Criminal Court. One monitor was critical of one defense attorney who simply
“did not know the cases.” As one monitor observed, “Most of the attorneys present were not well
prepared. When it was time to represent their clients, the attorneys were either outside or helping
other clients in other courtrooms.” Another reported, “Both ADAs and Legal Aid lawyer were
not prepared. Any information [needed] should have been obtained before the court appearance,
if information was not submitted, [this] should have been told to the judge prior to the
appearance. I was disappointed in their [lack of] professionalism.”
Several monitors attributed the lack of preparation by some attorneys to their heavy
caseloads. One noted, “The defense attorneys from Legal Aid had a very busy caseload with
several clients all at once in different courtrooms.” Another observed, “Defense attorneys [were]
seldom prepared because of too many cases. I observed an attorney stand in front of the judge for
about thirty - to forty minutes trying to get rid of the cases. He also had cases in another part.”
“It was clear that [defense attorneys] did not know their clients personally. They act as if they are
on an assembly line. [And] since they didn’t know most of their clients on a personal level a lot
of the time was taken [up] to speak to them while they were in front of the judge.”
In some cases, attorneys were assigned clients in the courtroom; these attorneys had no
time for preparation prior to the commencement of the proceedings. For instance, one monitor
observed, an 18-b attorney who “seemed to be a bit unprepared because he was assigned to the
defendant on the spot. [However], the attorney was very friendly towards the defendant.” In
other cases, attorneys offered to represent defendants whose attorneys did not show up or were
late. One monitor reported, “There were many lawyers who were not present [when their case
was called]. The Legal Aid attorney [who was] present was very helpful and asked constantly if
she could represent the defendants without attorneys.”
Monitors found that some ADAs were unprepared due to misplaced files or inexperience.
One monitor described, “The state’s attorneys’ [the ADAs] preparation was poor. Although there

were two of them at one point, they didn’t have the defendant's case file.” Another monitor
observed cases being delayed because “some papers were out of place” that the ADAs needed.
One monitor noted, “The prosecutor was young and wasn’t well prepared in some cases
[leading] the judge to call him to the stand [to] question him [on the] facts of the case.”
When attorneys were not prepared, regardless of the reason, monitors found that the
attorneys “had to speak to their clients which took up a significant amount of time.” This delayed
the proceedings.
Although monitors were generally dissatisfied with the level of preparation by many
attorneys, some individual attorneys were praised for their preparedness. For instance, one
monitor found, “The defense [attorney] was surprisingly prepared. He spoke clearly and was
effective with his time.” One monitor described one 18-b attorney that he observed as “audible”
and “prepared” and noted that the attorney “took time before once case to speak with a defendant
about his priors.” The monitor praised, “He cover[ed] all grounds.”
Absent or Late Attorneys
Proceedings were also delayed by the non-appearance or late arrival of some attorneys. As
one monitor observed, “Many attorneys were not present when [their] cases was called and their
clients had to wait until they arrived.” Another monitor incredulously stated, “The attorneys were
actually late, especially the defense attorneys.” This monitor felt, “They should be encouraged to be
more punctual.”
Monitors found that “It was quite difficult to hear what the attorneys were saying.” One
monitor noted, “Most of the prosecutors I viewed before did not speak loud enough for the
audience to hear.” Another observed, Sometimes the defense attorneys were speaking too
softly.” Another monitor stated, "The only recommendation is that the judge, the [assistant]
district attorneys, and the defense attorneys ... speak up and [speak] more clearly because it is
hard for the public to hear."
Many monitors attributed the inaudibility to the noise generated by “lawyers using cell
phones” and “having side conversations.” One monitor suggested, court officers should tell the
attorneys that are waiting for their cases to be quiet.”

Defendants, victims, witnesses, family members, and prospective jurors spend a great
deal of time outside and inside of the courtroom, dealing with court clerks, court officers and
other court personnel. Non-judicial court personnel have an enormous impact on the public’s
perception of the court and how fairly and efficiently it operates.
Throughout their monitoring of the Criminal Court, student monitors observed court
personnel who were “helpful” and “polite” and who “knew what their job was” and “did it.”
However, the unpleasant demeanor of some court personnel and the lack of professionalism
displayed by other court personnel troubled many of the monitors. One monitor observed,
"Some of the court personnel was helpful, while others seemed irritated" by inquiries from the
public. Another monitor commented, “While most of the court personnel were efficient …and
had control of the court, others were just standing there talking to other court personnel.”
Treatment of Defendants and the General Public
Monitors found that the court personnel generally answered inquiries and provided
assistance to defendants and others. One monitor praised, "One clerk was very polite. She spoke
politely to the defendants that were released and answered several questions posed to her."
Another monitor reported, "There was an incident when a defendant was unsure what was going
to happen to her. The court officer was very attentive and helped to calm her down." Yet another
monitor noted, "A court officer at the information desk was very polite in instructing me where
the courtroom I was looking for was."
Sometimes the court personnel, particularly the court officers, were “cold” or “impolite”
when dealing with inquiries or otherwise discourteous. One monitor stated, “I wouldn’t say they
were too polite or even welcoming but they did answer my questions.” Another monitor felt that
“the officers were cold to anyone that they didn’t recognize.” Another monitor felt strongly that
the court officer were discourteous to defendants, noting, “The court officers looked at the
[defendants] as though they were beneath them. I expected a professional setting . . . what I saw
was quite the opposite.”
Monitors found that the court officers that they encountered in the Midtown Community
Court were particularly discourteous. One monitor referred to the officers as “no –nonsense types.”
Another recounted an incident where two officers were “rude” when the monitor asked a question:
“When I entered the courtroom I went up to a court officer to ask him when the court session would
start. He did not even look at me and walked away. I then went to another officer to ask the same
question and he too was rude to me.” The hostile treatment that one student monitor received from
court officers at the Midtown Community Court led her to “suggest that the court officers be more
friendly. Even though the courtroom is small you can’t impede or dissuade people from sitting in
the courtroom.” The monitor added, “I went there for the morning session and I was told by the
court officer to go 100 Centre Street. The morning session was so packed that they forced the

defendants out on [to] the street. When I got there for the afternoon session, I was recognized
immediately and [got] the impressions the court officer…didn’t want me there.”
The monitors generally found that the court personnel particularly in the courtroom did not
behave professionally. Monitors observed court officers “eating in the courtroom,” “reading
newspapers,” “using [their] cell phones on the side of the courtroom, where the judge could not see”
them and even giving each other massages. One monitor reported, “The behavior of the court
officers was very unprofessional. They seemed and acted very relaxed. They showed no respect
towards the defendants and their attorneys because they would talk and joke around with each other
loudly as the case was being heard.” Another monitor noted, “They were flicking rubber bands and
talking aloud.” One sympathetic monitor stated, “I do understand that the court personnel see
virtually the same [type of proceedings] day in and day out but I do believe that they could act a
little more professional.”
After observing proceedings in the Criminal Court, one monitor concluded, “the only
thing that needs improvement is the behavior of the courtroom personnel. They should be more
professional, talk less and seem more interested in what is happening in the courtroom.”
Another monitor asserted, “I believe that court clerks and court officers should be trained and re-
trained every 18 months. They should be trained on how and what is appropriate behavior in the
Maintenance of Order
Monitors found that the maintenance of order in the courtroom by the court personnel,
specifically the court officers, was inconsistent from courtroom to courtroom. In some courtrooms,
the court officers were described as “stern and serious,” and “in complete control.” In these
courtrooms, court officers “tried to keep quiet in the courtroom” by telling "people to turn off their
phones" or “telling the attorneys to take their conversations with clients outside.” As one monitor
put it, the “court officers maintained order very efficiently – they knew what they [had] to do and
they did it”
However, in other courtrooms, particularly in arraignment parts, monitors found that
court officers did not maintain order in the courtroom and sometimes were the source of the
disorder in the courtroom. As one monitor noted, “The court officers did not intervene [to
maintain] order in the court until the judge signaled them.” Another monitor made a similar
observation, noting that the court officers “seemed uninterested. The didn’t attempt to quiet the
courtroom until the judge did so.”
Monitors also reported that some court personnel were disruptive. One monitor
described the court personnel as “out of control” because “they refused to be quiet after the judge
ordered silence at least three times.” Another monitor observed, “Many of the court officers were

loud and rude. They contributed to the amount of noise …in the courtroom and this made it very
difficult to hear.”

Foreign language and American Sign Language interpreters are sometimes utilized to
translate court proceedings in the Criminal Court. The Criminal Court employs full time
interpreters in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian, among other languages. Temporary per
diem interpreters are arranged by the court for all languages for which there is not a staff
interpreter. The court also employs a sign language interpreter.
Monitors found that on several occasions that interpreters were not available when
needed. One monitor, who observed proceedings in an arraignment part, observed, "Many cases
being called required an interpreter; many were not available …the cases were [delayed] until an
interpreter was available." Another monitor found that an interpreter was not immediately
available when one defendant’s case was called and “the defendant needed to wait a long time
until his case was called again” because all the cases requiring an interpreter were called later in
the day at the same times. Another observed who witnessed multiple delays due to the dearth of
available interpreters urged the Criminal Court to have "enough interpreters available [when
needed] so caseloads can be done quickly."

The New York County Branch of the New York City Criminal Court is headquartered in the
Criminal Courts Building at 100 Centre Street in lower Manhattan. The Midtown Community
Court, part of the Criminal Court that arraigns defendants arrested and charged with non-felony
offenses in Times Square, Clinton and Chelsea areas, is located at 314 West 54
Street. In addition,
several parts are housed in a city-owned building located at 346 Broadway.
100 Centre Street
The 17-floor Manhattan Criminal Courts Building, built in 1941 by New York City’s Public
Works Administration, houses the Criminal Court; the Supreme Court, Criminal Branch; some
district attorneys’ offices; the Department of Probation; and the Department of Corrections.
Prior to and during this monitoring project, some improvements to 100 Centre Street were
made, such as the installation of new bathrooms on all floors, new benches in several courtrooms,
new furniture in some courtrooms, the installation of a public address system in Arraignment Part 1,
and improved access to the building for the disabled.
General Conditions
Despite the patchwork renovations, the student monitors were critical of the conditions in
100 Centre Street. The monitors were particularly dismayed by “fairly dark and gloomy” nature
of the hallways and other public areas and the lack of signage for visitors to the court. One
monitor commented, “The building is far from inviting: dark hallways and cracked paint is
everywhere. Lighting is poor, the windows let in a draft and the courtrooms are very dusty.”
Another observer reiterated the need for “more lighting” and added that the facility needed
“more signs to help guide individuals because the court set-up is very confusing.” Another
monitor agreed that having “more signs on the first floor to guide visitors would prevent them
from getting lost.” Yet another monitor suggested, "At the entrance of the court, they could post
an information booth. This would [particularly] help on the days that the court is very crowded."
One monitor concluded, after a long day in the courthouse, “If the building was more
modern looking, clean, well lit and inviting, people might have a greater respect for the Criminal
Court of the County of New York.” Another recommended, "Building more facilities [because]
the present facilities are not capable of [handling] the flow of [cases]. Open up local courts, like
the one on 54
and 9
[Midtown Community Court] to handle a limited [number] of cases in
order to reduce the clogging of the downtown courts."
Monitors also found the elevators to be problematic. They described the elevators as “old,”
“dirty” and “slow.” One monitor recounted a particularly harrowing experience in an elevator:
“When I was exiting the courthouse before . . . it made it to the first floor; the elevator got stuck and

took us (the people who were also riding it) to the sixteenth floor, not once but twice. This was
scary because it couldn’t open on the first floor.” This experience led the monitor to suggest, “The
elevator should be checked at least once every month.”
Monitors repeatedly reported that the restrooms in 100 Centre Street were “dirty” and
“needed to be cleaned.” The condition of the restrooms led one outraged monitor to state, “The
bathrooms were a disgrace. To say they were dirty would be an understatement, and the odor was
also unpleasant.” Other monitors noted the lack of supplies in the restrooms. One monitor, after
discovering the lack of paper towel in the restrooms inquired, “What is the point of washing your
Waiting Areas
One monitor suggested that the courthouse could use a “waiting area” for jurors,
witnesses, and others who could sometimes be found “right outside [the courtroom] in the hall
making noise.
Access for People with Disabilities
Monitors also expressed concerns about the ease that disabled persons could access the
building considering the scaffolding and physical barriers present outside the courthouse: “By
law, the facilities must be accessible for people with disabilities but the [accommodations]
weren’t in plain view… that worried me because in case of an emergency, it would take someone
who had to use these facilities [too] much time to get out.”
The courtrooms varied in cleanliness. Monitors described some courtrooms in 100 Centre
Street as “clean” and others as “dirty.” For every courtroom that the monitors found that had “the
smell of pine in the air” and “ floors [that] were swept and washed,” there was another courtroom
with “dirty” floors or “dingy” walls.
Monitors felt that many courtrooms were in need of repairs or improvements. They
observed that many courtrooms needed new benches due to the graffiti or gum or scratches that
could be found all over the current benches. Other courtrooms “could use a paint job because
“the white walls were now a shade of yellow.” One monitor who sat in a courtroom with “wires
hanging from the wood paneling on the wall” suggested that the “wires could be put in place.”
Another noted, “The flag behind the judge was dirty. [It] needed replacing.” Yet another monitor
observed proceedings in a courtroom with “numerous holes in the ceiling and water leak spots."
This monitor felt that "the court should provide proper maintenance [and] upkeep of the
courtroom. The reason [why the court facilities aren't better maintained] perhaps is that the
public rarely attends court sessions and those who do don't care to mention or report it."

Midtown Community Court
The Midtown Community Court is located at 314 West 54
Street, in a 5–story building
adjacent to the Midtown North police precinct station house. The building’s one courtroom is
located on the first floor; monitors described it as “small,” “clean,” and “well-lit.”
Several monitors felt that the courtroom was too “small” and “very cluttered” with
defendants but also with “equipment, boxes, and employees.” One day the courthouse was “ so
packed that they forced the defendants out on [to] the street. One monitor, who described the
facilities as “terrible,” felt that there “was too much traffic in the courtroom.” This monitor added
that some of the traffic in the courtroom might be reduced if, after the judge sentences the
defendant, the defendant was sent upstairs to the clerk’s offices for payment of fines or scheduling.”
One monitor noted, “The columns or pillars should not have been right in the middle of the
courtroom. It was hard to see the front of the courtroom with them in the way.”
One monitor commented, “The bathroom was small and dirty. A wheelchair could not
have fit into the bathroom I used.”
Upgrading the Criminal Court Facilities
Under the New York State Court Facilities Act of 1987, every locality that houses a state
court must assess the suitability and sufficiency of existing courthouses, and must develop a plan
for renovation or for construction of adequate facilities. The reports were to be submitted to the
Chief Administrator of the Courts by August, 1989.
The Act was an effort to force localities to fulfill their responsibility to provide adequate
courthouses. Prior to 1976, each city or county was responsible for all of the costs of the courts
in its jurisdiction, including building and maintaining courthouses, paying the salaries of judges
and court personnel, buying equipment and office supplies, and all other operational costs. In
1976, due to severe fiscal pressures on local governments, particularly on the City of New York,
the state assumed all costs of the courts, with the exception of court facilities. The Court
Facilities Act of 1987 was a response to the municipalities’ failure to fulfill their lone remaining
responsibility toward the courts: providing adequate courthouses.
In 1989, in an effort to comply with the Court Facilities Act, New York City launched a
$2.8 billion plan to build and renovate courthouses throughout the five boroughs. The plan’s
primary objectives include consolidating and upgrading courthouses in New York County, where
several courts operate in inadequate facilities.
Key components of the City’s master plan include construction of a new courthouse at
101 Centre Street for the Supreme Court, Criminal Branch, which currently shares 100 Centre

Street with the Criminal Court, and renovation of the building at 100 Centre Street. In addition,
the plan proposes to renovate 80 Centre Street to house court-related agencies, such as the Office
of the District Attorney. Construction of the new Supreme Court building and relocation of
certain agencies would make available a large amount of desperately-needed space at 100 Centre
Street for the overcrowded Criminal Court. The monitors urge the City to re-examine
implementation of this plan.

1) The City of New York should improve housekeeping, maintenance and signage in
the Criminal Court facilities.
The monitors were critical of the condition of the court’s facilities. The unreliable
elevators, dark and dingy hallways, courtrooms with hanging wires and graffiti covered
benches, and deplorable conditions in the restrooms diminish the dignity of both the court
and the people who must use it. Monitors believe that these deficiencies in essential
maintenance and housekeeping create an environment for staff and litigants that is
lacking in basic human dignity. The monitors urge the City and the Office of Court
Administration to rectify the situation by providing the resources and staffing necessary
to maintain the facilities in clean and functional condition.
Monitors also found 100 Centre Street difficult to navigate due to poor signage.
The monitors urge the City and the Office of Court Administration to improve the
signage so that the defendants and the general public can locate the courtroom and other
facilities in a timely fashion.
2) The New York State Legislature should ensure that there is adequate funding for
criminal legal services.
The student monitors observed the consequences of inadequate funding of
criminal legal services in New York State: The Legal Aid attorneys and appointed
counsel consistently observed appeared to be overextended. Monitors witnessed them
running from courtroom to courtroom to cover their cases resulting in delays and
adjournments. Worse, the lawyers’ overwhelming caseloads seemed to result in
inadequate preparation. Frequently, attorneys met their clients for the first time just
before they appeared before a judge; while most lawyers did their best under the
circumstances, monitors questioned whether a lawyer could be sufficiently familiar with
a case with so little time for preparation.
New York State has shifted the bulk burden of its constitutional mandate to
provide public defense services to localities. Localities such as New York City, facing
budget shortfalls, struggle to provide quality legal services to indigent defendants.
While the Legislature and the Governor increased assigned counsel fees in 2003
to $60 per hour for misdemeanor representation and $75 for felony representation, it is
troublesome and possibly disastrous that the state is not providing any funding for this
mandate until 2005, although the increase is effective as of January of 2004 and that the
revenue source is increased fees paid to the counties.
Thus, the monitors urge both the State of New York to share the costs of
providing legal services to indigent defendants with localities by allocating additional
funding and resources for criminal legal services.

3) The Criminal Court judges and other court personnel should maintain order in
the courtrooms.
Monitors reported that confusion often reigns in the courtrooms. Lawyers talk
among themselves or on their cell phones when their cases are not being heard. During
proceedings, they continually walk in and out of the courtrooms and call out the names of
clients. Meetings between defendants and lawyers are held in the courtrooms. Court
officers talk among themselves or on their cell phones, or eat and drink in the courtroom.
With all of these distractions, it is nearly impossible for the public, which often includes
victims and defendants’ family members, to hear the proceedings.
Monitors recommended that judges and court officers increase their efforts to
maintain order in the courtrooms. If lawyers and others persist in talking during the
proceedings, judges should have them removed from the courtroom, where appropriate.
Non-judicial court personnel have an enormous impact on the public’s perception
of the court and how fairly and efficiently it operates. The student monitors were
shocked by the discourteous and unprofessional behavior of court personnel in the
courtroom and felt that it reflected badly on the Criminal Court as a whole. As a remedy,
monitors urge the Office of Court Administration to institute new and more
comprehensive “civility” training for non-judicial court personnel.
4) Judges and other participants should take steps to ensure the public hears all
Monitors found that it is often difficult for the public to hear the proceedings due
to noise and distractions in the court or the judge or attorneys spoke to softly. For the
proceedings to truly be public, monitors urged that judges speak audibly and clearly and
that they be provided and then use microphones for amplification purposes at all times;
they also urged that microphones be provided for lawyers and witnesses, and that judges
encourage all participants to speak audibly. They also urge the judge to discourage those
in the courtroom, including court personnel and attorneys, from talking and making other
noises during the proceedings.
5) The New York State Legislature should introduce and pass New York State
Unified Court System current court restructuring proposal.
Since 1997, New York State Court System, spearheaded by Chief Judge Judith
Kaye, has proposed a constitutional amendment to restructure the state’s court system.
The amendment would replace the current maze of courts with a streamlined, less
hierarchical structure. It would consolidate trial courts from the current nine major
courts (which often have overlapping jurisdiction) into two courts: A Supreme Court
and the Surrogate’s Court. Judges formerly serving on those trial courts would become
Supreme Court Justices thereby eliminating the need to co-opt Criminal Court judges to
serve as “Acting” Supreme Court judges due to current statutory limitations on the
number of Supreme Court justices. The removal of this statutory limitation would allow

the court administrators to more efficiently assign judges to efficiently handle the
caseload of each court.
To the monitors, the need for restructuring is urgent considering the large
caseloads in the Criminal Court that need to be addressed in order to eliminate the
assembly line justice that some monitors witnessed.
As is the case with all proposed amendments to the state constitution, the court
restructuring plan must be passed by two consecutive State Legislatures and signed by
the Governor; it then must be ratified by the voters in a state-wide referendum. The
Senate and the Assembly should introduce the New York State Unified Court System
current court restructuring proposal in the coming legislative session.

The Fund for Modern Courts wishes to thank the judicial personnel and staff of
the Criminal Court in New York County for their assistance during this project.
Modern Courts also owes particular gratitude to Dean James Levine and Professors
James Cauthen and Diane Hartmus of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who facilitated
student participation in this project, and to the student monitors themselves: Without whose
diligence and sharp observations, this report would not have been possible.
Modern Courts Director of Court Monitoring Kimyetta R. Robinson wrote this

The following students from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice participated in this
Tory Alves
Ernest W. Lucarini
Dominique Baxter
Guy Marshall
Carolyn Bejaramo
Nancy L. Martinez
Chalon S. Blackman
Monette D. McMillan
Vanessa Bloom
Ines Merino
Rinaldi Cetoute
Brianne S. Moody
Cora J. Chang
Beatriz Quinones
Althea Cochran
Israel Rivera
Liz Colonna
Suzet Redway
Luis Correa
Mylika Reece
Brenda L. Cortes
Natasha Roberts
Cristian D. Crisostomo
Ismelda Sanchez
Tameeka Fruit
Taylan O. Sevinc
Celso Garcia
Priya Tiwari
Maria T. Gomez
Jibi Thomas
Dayanara Guzman
Trevor Thomas
Harold Josama
Honora F. Thompson
Peter Khamara
Haywood Wong
Woongki Kim