Saturday, July 30, 2016
Judges leaving defendants in the clink
Over the course of about a month, I-Team cameras caught courthouse doors locking well before the official 1 a.m. closing time. In one case, doors locked at 11:27 p.m. On another night they locked at 11:15 p.m. On yet another night, court officers closed the building at 10:58 p.m. The judge adjourned court and went home before 10 p.m.
The New York State Office of Court Administration confirmed that for about the last six years, night court judges in Queens have been given the discretion to adjourn early on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights when the flow of defendants is lightest.
"In Queens County it typically takes about three and one-half hours to arraign a case after the case is docketed – a 5 percent reduction from last year," Chalfen wrote in an email to the I-Team.
Despite that statistic, Helen Weinstein, who chairs the NY Assembly Committee on the Judiciary, said she is asking court administrators to review the go-home-early policy.
"No judge should be leaving the bench early if there's somebody who could be arraigned that night," Weinstein said. "In probably the overwhelming majority of cases, the person is going to be arraigned and sent home."