When Justice Barry Kamins (See Profile) was named administrative judge of the Criminal Court in January 2012, he viewed the task of bringing down arraignment times as "a major priority."
"The culture in the New York criminal justice system before I took the position, was that arrest to arraignment was this beast that is difficult to tame, but I wasn't satisfied," he said. "It was one of my top priorities."
The arraignment process has "many moving parts," Kamins explained, with one essential part being the police production of defendants at the courthouse.
"It was clear to me we were not getting through to the police department as much as we needed to get through to them," Kamins said.
'He Knows Their Language'
So Kamins asked Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (See Profile) and Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti (See Profile) to let him assign Grasso a longtime police department employee before joining the benchto monitor arraignments throughout the city (NYLJ, April 11, 2012).
"I felt he could get through to the police brass. He knows them. He speaks their language. The results have been telling," said Kamins.
Grasso said he has established a "bench briefing protocol" and is working on "a system of data based on accountability in the courtroom" that tracks cases' progression.
He added that he has sought to imbue a "sense of urgency" into all parties concerned with the arraignment process, from the police to the attorneys to court, achieving a "culture change" in the process.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said he now thinks averages arraignment times could get to 18 hours or lower.
"Judge Grasso has turned it around because he knows, as a former high ranking official in the NYPD, how to move it," Hynes said.
Steven Banks, Legal Aid Society attorney-in-chief said, on the whole, "the 24-hour situation has been relatively stable for a number of months."