N.Y. senator pushes bill to up criminal court decision transparency

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New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris is introducing a bill aimed at increasing transparency in New York’s criminal courts, the senator announced Monday.

The report from Reinvent Albany found that at least 94% of written criminal court decisions in New York are not published and called for decisions to be published online to improve public accountability.

In addition, New York Criminal Court judges decide whether or not to publish their decisions in criminal cases, and judges who publish at least one decision per year average two to three published decisions per year, according to the report.

According to the report, the bill Gianaris is promoting would require judges to provide copies of oral rulings in lieu of written rulings, to publish rulings when they decide a written legal case or pretrial hearing, and to require the Office of Court Administration to make available to the public written criminal court decisions within the past 15 years.

“New Yorkers deserve an open and accountable court system. The weight of these decisions warrants greater transparency, and my new proposal will ensure that the rights of everyone in our legal system are protected and that jury records are open to the public,” Gianaris, a Democrat, said in a statement.

“The public and their elected representatives cannot be held accountable without seeing the decisions of criminal court judges and the judiciary,” Rachael Fows, senior policy advisor for Reinvent Albany, said in a statement. Reviewing judicial nominees, however, weakens legislative oversight of criminal law reforms. It’s time to fully explain New York’s criminal court decisions, ensuring that our state’s judiciary is at least as transparent as the rest of the government.



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