Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two from the Times

NY's top court has ruled that the method planned for involuntary confinement of sexual offenders was improper and ordered hearings to determine whether the persons who brought the suit should be held or released under existing law. What is important to take from this is that it was a fairly narrow questions of law--if the Mental Hygeine Law permitted such confinement. Much more will be said on this topic, but hopefully most of the commentary realizes the narrow basis of the decision and isn't laden with hyperbole.

On a second topic, the Unified Court System has released a plan to reform the Justice Court system. The Justice Courts, as profiled in a recent series of stories, apparently suffer from a lack of trained justices and irregularly applied justice.


Anonymous Dee said...

Re Justice Courts, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties seem to have many dedicated town justices. They seem to really try to keep up with the laws, treat those who enter the courts with respect and fair applications of laws.

I have never heard any of the types of horror stories that was detailed in the times from the Catt-Chaut. area. Of course, when people don't get what they want, they complain, but I honestly feel that the majority of people in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties would say they have been treated fairly in the Justice Courts.

One thing that bothers me a great deal is the talk about how many town courts are in highway garages or multipurpose rooms in a town building. To me, this makes a great deal of sense. For example, look at the tiny town of Red House where court is held in the town building. Why should there be a separate court facility? Or what about the small town who decided they needed a little more space for court and town functions? So the town supervisors got together one day to add onto the building a little. It seems to me to be a good steward of resources to use the town buildings in multiple ways rather than having specific areas designated for court.

I am enthused about the idea that the town courts will have transcripts of the proceedings, but this comes to an obvious problem of space for such records. I believe there should be a central repositary where records could be left, perhaps at the county seats. A small town can have room for, and afford, a locked filing cabinet or two for court records, but as things accrue, as they do in the legal business, space will be extremely limited.

2:07 PM  
Blogger TMT said...

Good points. I felt there was a little Manhattan snobbery in the discussion of town garages and such. I have been in many courts which functioned perfectly well despite nontraditional settings.

I'm enthusiastic about the prospect of taped proceedings, though. I think that is an overdue reform, as I've often been prevented from appealing decisions because there's no record of where the judge said "I don't care, take it to a higher court" or "that's not the law in my court, counsel."

9:43 AM  

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