Justice Denied: Inside the Bronx’s Dysfunctional Court System

William Glaberson, Justice Denied: Inside the Bronx’s Dysfunctional Court System. Four-part series in The New York Times. 13-30  April 2013. “The Bronx courts are failing. With criminal cases languishing for years, a plague of delays in the Bronx criminal courts is undermining one of the central ideals of the justice system, the promise of a speedy trial.”

Excerpts from story:

In the Bronx in recent years, there were more people in jail waiting years for their trials than in the rest of the city combined, court data show. The borough was responsible for more than half of the cases in New York City’s criminal courts that were over two years old, and for two-thirds of the defendants waiting for their trials in jail for more than five years….

Months of court visits in the Bronx beginning last June [2012] — which included observations of trials, examinations of case files and transcripts in scores of cases, analyses of law enforcement statistics and reports, and dozens of interviews with crime victims, witnesses, defendants, lawyers, court officials, judges and jurors — showed the broad range of problems afflicting the borough’s justice system….

Douglas G. Rankin, with his reputation for late arrivals, postponements and filibusters, is an example of how defense lawyers often use time as a weapon….

Those accused of minor offenses in the Bronx have all but lost their fundamental right to a trial, subjected to such hardship in pursuit of a hearing that it is often easiest to agree to a plea bargain….