Last Tuesday, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivered the 2014 State of the Judiciary address at the Court of Appeals building in Albany.
He used the opportunity to announce the “Pro Bono Scholars” program, through which 3rd year law students would serve low-income clients in return for accelerated admission to the bar. The program is intended to close a “gaping disconnect” between low income who cannot afford legal services and new or soon-to-be lawyers who cannot find legal jobs.
He also announced several other initiatives that the Unified Court System will undertake this year:
- a pilot program to permit non-lawyers to help low-income clients navigate the court system;
- a bill to change state law to automatically expunge the criminal records of some offenders, and to authorize judges to wipe clean the records of others; and
- establishing special court parts in every county to preside over both felony and misdemeanor driving-while-intoxicated cases.
Judge Lippman also reiterated his call for put in plugs for his earlier proposals: creating 20 new Family Court judges beginning in 2015; raising the age of criminality for non-violent young offenders from 16 to 18; criminal discovery reform; and ending the jailing of suspects who are unable to pay minimal bail after arrests on minor, non-violent charges.