In an effort to address the Bronx's "singularly intractable" felony backlog, court administrators will deploy at least 10 judges from outside New York City to conduct trials over the next six months for the borough's oldest felonies.
"Given the age and status of the current Bronx caseload, this is an absolutely essential step," Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (See Profile) said yesterday in an address to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.
Starting early next month, before going to trial, the older cases will come before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Patricia Di Mango (See Profile) in what Lippman called the newly established "blockbuster part."
Di Mango is the deputy administrative judge of the Brooklyn Supreme Court criminal term but will be working full time in the Bronx for the next six months.
If plea negotiations break down, Di Mango will assign the cases for trial to one of the volunteer judges tapped for the effort.
Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti (See Profile) said in an interview that the part will pull from a pool of judges. Once the part opens, between five and 10 trials will be conducted at any given time, she said.
The current caseloads of volunteering judges will be absorbed in their respective districts, said Prudenti. Added costs to pay for travel and other expenses would be "very modest," she said.
Prudenti said the incoming volunteers would have "extensive experience in felony matters." She later noted the pending cases they will hear include charges of homicide, robbery and sex crimes"some of the very heaviest cases in the system."
The names of the judges have not yet been made public, as court administrators are still finalizing their reassignments, which will be for "all or part of the next six months," Lippman said in his speech.