Chief Judge calls for changes in bail, camera access to courts

Posted at: 02/05/2013 4:37 PM
Updated at: 02/05/2013 6:04 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - In his annual State of the Judiciary speech and a follow up interview with reporters, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman warned New York has a glaring deficiency in its laws on bail.

"In almost every other state, judges are required by statute to consider public safety when making a bail determination," Lippman told a packed courtroom in the Court of Appeals. "In New York, they are not required, or even permitted, to do so."

As a result, Judge Lippman argues defendants are put back on the street with possibly catastrophic consequences.

He wants to expand supervised release and reduce the influence of bail bondsmen in determining who gets freed awaiting trial and who rots in jail awaiting trial.

Other goals of the Chief Judge include improving safeguards against wrongful convictions, establishing age appropriate juvenile justice and bringing news cameras and microphones back into the state's trial courts as a matter of routine.

"To close our courtrooms to cameras in an age that we have today, the technology that we have with all the modern way the I-phones and the pads and you see everything in the world and have the people of New York not be able to see what happens in our courtrooms doesn't make any sense," Judge Lippman said. "We have to educate people about the critical work that goes on in the courts. They have a right to know about it."