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News stories tagged with "courts"

A more diverse court

The state's Commission on Judicial Nominations, heavily criticized by Governor David Paterson for lacking diversity in its selection of potential judges, has issued new rules to address the issue. Karen DeWitt reports.  Go to full article
The political battle between Republican Jim Tedisco (right) and Democrat Scott Murphy is headed for the courts
The political battle between Republican Jim Tedisco (right) and Democrat Scott Murphy is headed for the courts

Tedisco, Murphy race enters a process that could take months

State election officials say Democrat Scott Murphy leads the 20th district election by 47 votes. But as the ballot recount continues, Republicans in the district are trying to disqualify hundreds of ballots, including the vote cast by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand held the House seat until January, when she was appointed to the US Senate. In a statement released last night, Gillibrand called the challenge "frivolous" and "dishonest." Republican Jim Tedisco has argued that too many second homeowners, many of them living in New York City, voted inappropriately in the election. In a statement issued last night, Tedisco's attorney, Jim Walsh, said that a judge should disqualify those votes. "We will continue to make the case that the ballots of hundreds of New York City voters should not be deciding this election," Walsh wrote. But Robert Brehm with the New York State Board of Elections, says the courts haven't restricted voting by snowbird residents and second homeowners in the past. Brehm spoke yesterday with Brian Mann about the ballot-counting process. He says the system works slowly, but will eventually produce a clear result.  Go to full article

Judging North Country courts

Published reports in the New York Times last year exposed wide spread incompetence and abuse in the state's local justice courts. Many of these judges have only a few days' legal training and almost no oversight. This has led to instances of prosecution without defense, imprisonment without bail and other violations of the law. Now a commission has been formed to look into them. Its members have spent this week in Franklin and St Lawrence Counties observing justice courts and their judges. Jonathan Brown talked with commission chair Carey Dunne about what he's finding.  Go to full article

Spitzer urged to consider court diversity

Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer will have the opportunity to change the make up of the state's highest court in the next year and a half. At a hearing today held by Senate Democrats, prominent members of the legal community urged Spitzer to consider ethnic and racial diversity when he makes his decisions. Karen DeWitt reports.  Go to full article

Top judges propose reform of town and village courts

The chief judges of the state's court system want to overhaul local town and village courts. A New York Times series published in late September savaged the local system. The Times found widespread examples of incompetence and improper behavior, especially here in the North Country.
The local courts are often low-budget operations. Most local justices have no legal background, and minimal training. In cases cited by the Times, some allegedly used racist or sexist language. They were accused of showing bias against defendants. People were jailed without due process.
The chief judges' report released yesterday acknowledges many of the weaknesses. Its authors - at the top of the justice system - also admit they can't mandate change.
Karen DeWitt reports from Albany.  Go to full article

NY Times finds abuses in North Country courts

A report published this morning in the New York Times alleges widespread incompetence and abuse of power in New York's system of town and village courts. The article, based on a year-long investigation by the Times, focuses on six local courts in the North Country. Brian Mann has details.  Go to full article

Reforming sex offenders, with Hollywood's help

One of the touchiest subjects about sex offenders is recidivism. Some say that therapy isn't effective because sex offenders will almost always try to repeat their crimes. And that's true--for a very small percentage of sexual predators. But most sex offenders have low recidivism rates, lower than any other criminal except murderers. St. Lawrence County just launched a new treatment program for sex offenders. It's a 16-week program meant to teach so-called "low-risk" offenders to control their behavior. It also prepares them for the next 20 years of probation. Gregory Warner stopped by one class in Potsdam. They had just watched The Woodsman the week before, a 2004 film where Kevin Bacon plays a child molester just released from prison.  Go to full article

NY Court Rules Gay Marriage Unlawful

New York's highest court ruled that marriage of same-sex couples is against state law. In a divided ruling, the Court of Appeals said it's up to the legislature to change the statute. The news came as a great disappointment to the 44 couples who challenged the law. Karen DeWitt reports from Albany.  Go to full article

DA Hopefuls Spar Over Experience, Prescription Drugs

The candidates for St. Lawrence County District Attorney are entering the home stretch of what could be a closely contested race. Acting DA Gary Miles is running on the Republican ticket, even though he's a Democrat. He face a strong challenge from Democratic candidate Nicole Duvé. As David Sommerstein reports, the campaign has been a bitter one, with controversy surrounding a crackdown on prescription drugs.  Go to full article

Pataki Nominates Susan Phillips Read to State's Highest Court

For the first time in New York's history, the state's highest court will have a majority of women on the seven-member panel. The court will also be dominated by appointees of Governor Pataki, now that Pataki has appointed Justice Susan Read to the New York Court of Appeals. Karen Dewitt reports.  Go to full article

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