After assigning a judge to monitor arraignments full-time and restoring weekend hours, court officials are confident they have solved what many thought was "a beast difficult to tame"arraigning suspects within 24 hours of arrests.
Court officials have had trouble meeting that deadline ever since it was imposed in the 1991 Court of Appeals decision, Roundtree v. Brown, 77 NY2d 422.
And meeting the high court's mandate became more difficult when weekend hours were scaled back to contain overtime costs as part of 2011 budget cuts.
According to state court statistics, the average citywide arraignment times were below 24 hours in every month of 2010. Of the five boroughs, only Brooklyn and the Bronx consistently breached the 24-hour standard.
However, average arraignment times rose almost immediately after the city introduced its compressed scheduled in June 2011, average arraignment times staying above 24 hours for each of the 10 months the reduced hours were in effect.
But since June, average citywide arrest-to-arraignment times have stayed below the 24-hour mark, dipping to 20.09 hours in December 2012, lower than the 22.25 hours of December 2010, before the compressed hours went into effect. See the 2012 stats.
With the weekend hours totally restored in April 2012, the average hours citywide were 21.5 hours in the last six months of the year, compared to 24.5 in the first six months of the year.
Moreover, the Bronx and Brooklyn have seen particularly drastic reductions. By February 2012, average arraignment times had soared to almost 32 hours in both boroughs. Last month, however, the Bronx clocked a 24.14-hour average while Brooklyn courts took only 21.57 hours to conduct arraignments.
Those numbers are not an aberration, court officials say.
"The numbers speak for themselves. The progress is not a mystery," said First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks (See Profile), pointing to the work of Criminal Court Judge George Grasso (See Profile), and the resumption of weekend hours, adding, "the results were almost immediate."