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Democrats want New York judges to be required to attend annual bail training

By 02/09/2023 6:56 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

Two prominent Democratic lawmakers seek to mandate annual training on the state’s bail regulations for New York judges.
Sens. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) has introduced a new bill that would guarantee jurists receive an annual refresher on the subject.

Gov. Hochul is seeking to amend the state’s bail statute and give judges more discretion when holding defendants’ pretrials.
Any judge or justice who presides over criminal proceedings must complete at least three hours of annual training on bail, recognizance, and commitment standards and procedures.

According to Hoylman-Sigal, “the proper administration of justice requires public faith in an impartial, above reproach, and capable judiciary.” “Unfortunately, the secrecy surrounding New York’s judicial accountability statutes fosters impressions of corruption, ineptitude, and unaccountability.

He continued, “We don’t even know if our judges are keeping up with significant changes in the law.”

The bill was introduced a few days after lawmakers grilled court officials about public safety during a budget hearing.

Acting Chief Administrative Judge Tamiko Amaker of the Office of Court Administration indicated that compulsory training is unnecessary.

After the state adopted significant reforms in 2019, Amaker estimated that 1,000 of the 1,300 judges presiding over criminal cases in New York City took part in training on the bail laws.

She argued that the documents were “internal” and that the “vast majority” of judges had taken the optional training.

She also resisted requests from lawmakers to share the materials with them.

New York banned cash bail in 2019 and limited pretrial detention for most nonviolent crimes, inciting criticism from Republicans and law enforcement groups who attempted to link the reforms to increased crime.

Hochul is trying to persuade the Democratic-controlled Legislature to make changes again after he successfully negotiated language into the state budget last year, giving judges more discretion to set bail in cases involving repeat offenders, firearms, and defendants who violate orders of protection.

The governor wants to remove language from the state’s bail statutes requiring courts to impose the “least restrictive” terms to make sure a defendant appears in court and replace it with language that would allow judges to consider several other criteria.

Hochul has continuously pushed for additional rollbacks, claiming that the law is unclear and that she wants to correct “inconsistencies” resulting from the previous year’s language used in the state budget.

Amaker disagreed with the governor’s constant claim that judges lack legal knowledge.

According to Amaker, most judges who make these decisions “don’t seem to be unaware of their options.” They are merely considering the particular conditions that are at hand.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct would be able to investigate and impose wrongdoing under the new measure unveiled on Thursday if the necessary training was not completed.

To promote transparency and accountability, a second bill from Gianaris and Hoylman-Sigal would permit the CJC to make investigations public when a formal complaint has been made against a judge.

Additionally, it would expand the commission’s authority such that investigations might go on even after a judge resigns or retires.

The actions follow allegations that former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and interim Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro failed to disclose any personal use of state-funded chauffeured cars in 2022, which resulted in underreporting compensation to state tax authorities.

DiFiore and Cannataro utilized court officer security services last year but neither disclosed any personal use on annual tax returns, according to Law360.

DiFiore “never asked for, influenced, or directed any determination regarding her detail,” according to a spokeswoman.

DiFiore resigned last summer amid a state ethics investigation investigating whether she improperly meddled in the president of the state’s court officers association’s disciplinary proceedings.



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