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Outside Justice Patricia DiMango Reduces Bronx Court Case Backlog

July 31, 2013

New York Supreme Court Justice Patricia DiMango has been been working with the Bronx courts since January, and is making major changes.  The Bronx Courts currently boast the largest number of cases that are two years or older in New York City.  In only six months, Justice DiMango has tried more than 500 cases, or about 40% of the Bronx’s case backlog.  With such immediate progress, Justice DiMango is receiving praise from both the prosecutors and the defense attorneys,

“She pushes them,” said Harvey Slovis, who has represented several clients in the blockbuster court. “She wears them down. She’ll say: ‘I don’t think this is worth five years, I think it’s worth two and a half. Now go back to your bosses and tell them what I want, and they come back with these plea offers.’ ”

But with all great successes, there are trade-offs.  Many defendants have accepted heavily reduced plea offers, such as misdemeanor assault for a crime originally charged as attempted murder.

Additionally, Justice DiMango, is overdue to return to Brooklyn.  As new outside judges are brought in to help the Bronx’s remaining backlogged cases, court officials are worried that their progress will lose momentum and that the entire exercise is only a quick fix.

“The phenomenon is like a boat that’s taking on water,” said Steven Banks, the citywide attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society. “As quickly as the water is bailed out, even more water is rushing in.”

To ensure their hard work does not go to waist, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman recently announced his plans to reduce court delays and continue fighting the case backlog.  One notable change is the emerging partnership between the bench and State Prosecutors, creating more lenient plea deals and greater efficiency.  The rotating panels of outside judges also allow cases to be heard in a more timely manor.

Whether or not these changes will permanently reduce the Bronx’s backlogged cases is still up for debate, but one thing is certain– Justice DiMango uses the same effective method no matter the court.

“I have done exactly what I always do, which is strongly evaluate the case, listen to both sides, try to figure out what I think really might have happened, or the motivation for what might have happened, and then present it to the defendant in a way I think they’ll understand it, and will help them make a decision as to whether or not they should exercise their right to go to trial or accept a plea.”

Source: The New York Times

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