A class action complaint filed yesterday against Governor Andrew Cuomo and others challenges as unconstitutional the allegedly lengthy delays for adjudicating cases before New York City’s Criminal Court for Bronx County. According to the complaint, a single case often requires dozens of court appearances and years of time to adjudicate — on average, 642 days for bench trials and 827 days for a jury trial. The complaint begins:
Justice delayed is justice denied. The constitutional right to a trial—a speedy and public trial—is the foundation of our adversarial criminal justice system. The right to challenge the state’s evidence and confront witnesses in a meaningful and timely manner gives legal and moral legitimacy to the system as a whole. For people accused of misdemeanors in the Bronx, however, this right is illusory. Years of persistent delays in processing misdemeanor cases, court congestion, and case backlogs (collectively, “Court Delay”) in the New York City Criminal Court, Bronx County (“Bronx Criminal Court”) have fatally undermined the right to trial and the right to a speedy trial for the tens of thousands of people charged with low-level offenses in the Bronx. The system more closely resembles punishment than due process.
The case is before Judge Daniels.