Statement on Racial Justice
The Fund for Modern Courts was established to work toward reforming the New York state court system. Our mission cannot be met unless we join with all organizations across the state and country that are fighting systemic racism. We must now sharpen our focus on our own organization, our research, our advocacy and our justice system to determine how best to achieve racial justice.
Our first task, as the convener of the Simplify the Courts coalition, which seeks structural change in the NYS courts as a means to create a more fair and efficient system of justice for all New Yorkers, will be to reach out to our member organizations and solicit their views on racism and the court system. We will share those findings with the wider public and the New York Unified Court System in the hope that this inclusive approach will enable needed change that provides equal justice.
Modern Courts has been dedicated to working for equal access to justice and an independent judiciary. Combating systemic racism is critical to these goals.
Memo Regarding Justice Courts and Covid-19
The Governor, Judiciary, Legislature and the NYSBA consider new ways to address the ongoing and pending eviction crisis in New York State. In addition to supporting a long-term eviction moratorium across New York State, we recommend:
- Consolidating the predicted increase in eviction cases to courts where the strict health and safety requirements have been implemented
- Targeting technological resource disparities
- Offering tenants greater access to representation which in turn provides greater access to justice
- Guaranteeing that eviction cases are heard by judges admitted to practice law in the State of New York
The Fund for Modern Courts is a non-partisan, independent, statewide, court reform organization that advocates for the improvement of the New York State court system and for ensuring a diverse, highly qualified and independent judiciary. Our advocacy efforts, citizens’ court monitoring programs, engagement of large law firms in the support of projects that improve access to justice, current issue-based forum development, collaboration with civil legal service and criminal justice organizations, court monitoring and Task Force research projects provide the means by which Modern Courts achieves a wide range of improvements in the State judiciary.
To safeguard the health of our honorees, guests, and hosts, we will be holding a virtual program this year for our annual John J. McCloy Award.
New York’s Court System is a relic from the 19th century.
To provide justice today, we must modernize the New York State court system.
Our present multiple court system creates confusion among the people the courts are supposed to serve, gives judges only partial ability to see the full picture of the case, wastes time for litigants which often results in loss of work and wages, and generates a system that is difficult, if not impossible, to understand.
Simplification will remove the barriers that impact litigants, families, victims, local government, small business, lawyers, nonprofit organizations, judges and court personnel and anyone who uses the courts because it will integrate the courts in a way that eliminates the need to go to different courts for different yet related issues. Court simplification will permit more resources to go to the courts that need them the most.
Campaign for Court Simplification
An Invitation to Join the Statewide Coalition for Court Simplification
Our growing Coalition has over 100 Members.
The Unseen Violation of Constitutional and State Law
The report found that many town and village justice courts throughout New York ignore the law by issuing bench warrants and jail terms for defendants who are unable to pay fines and fees due to their poverty.
Failure to pay the fines imposed by the justice courts can result in significant consequences for a defendant, including imprisonment until the fine is collected. The report, which is based on extensive interviews, discussions and a statewide-survey, makes it clear that imprisonment for failure to pay fines stretches across New York.
Modern Courts’ Report on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the New York Courts
Protecting the Administration of Justice in New York State: Impact of ICE Arrests on New Yorkers’ Access to State Courthouses
Legal reference guides on the complex intersection of family court issues and federal immigration laws, policy, and enforcement.
These legal reference guides are created for all who use the courts. We focus on providing members of the NYS judiciary and court personnel with an accessible resource that presents the important role of state court judges. The materials are also useful for attorneys, community organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and the public.