New report shows progress against bias, discrimination in NYS court system

Local News

A judge’s gavel is shown in a file photo. (Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Unified Court System has released a report showing the courts progress toward equal justice.

The report, titled “Equal Justice in the New York State Courts: 2021 Year in Review,” show the reforms that have already been implemented or are underway in the court system.

In June 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore appointed an attorney to conduct an independent review of the court system’s policies and practices related to issues of racism, bias and disparate treatment. That report showed the issues and included recommendations for ways the system could change.

The equal justice report shows the reforms that have been implemented thus far. These include:

  • Regular anti-bias training for all state-paid judges
  • Mandatory bias education and training for all court system non-judicial personnel, town and village judges and non-judicial personnel
  • New policies and protocols for court officers and other uniformed personnel, such as anti-bias training, name tags, and a designated Community Affairs Officer to be assigned at every courthouse.
  • Enhanced data transparency
  • Expanded diversity initiatives, including development of extensive educational materials on interviewing, civil service examinations and the hiring process
  • An informational campaign by the courts’ Inspector General’s Office explaining its functions, types of cases handled, the process for filing a complaint and how investigations are conducted and resolved
  • Development of a new juror orientation video to educate potential jurors and grand jurors about the dangers of implicit bias
  • Establishment of an annual Diversity Summit to promote diversity in the court system
  • Creation of Equal Justice Committees in each of New York’s judicial districts to develop local programs to help advance the equal justice initiative

“As today’s report surely demonstrates, a tremendous amount of progress has been accomplished as we strive to attain the highest standards of fairness, equality and meaningful inclusion within our court system,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

The full report can be viewed on the NYS court system website.

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