Morrison & Foerster, along with co-counsel the Bronx Defenders and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, secured a positive settlement with the New York State Unified Court System ensuring that those accused of misdemeanors in the Bronx will have their right to due process and a speedy trial. Prior to the settlement, individuals charged with low-level offenses waited several months and often years without a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves in court. The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit were comprised of a group of thousands affected by the systematic failures of the Bronx Criminal Court.
Under the terms of the settlement, which is subject to court approval, MoFo and its co-counsel will have the ability to monitor the court’s progress over the next four years to address ongoing concerns and ensure that progress continues. During that period, the New York State Unified Court System and Office of Court Administration will be required to meet with stakeholders, share data with the plaintiffs, and track cases where a person demands a trial. Since the lawsuit was filed on May 10, 2016, the state has made significant progress in clearing its backlog and reducing court delays. The number of misdemeanor cases pending for more than a year dropped from 2,378 to 513 and the number of misdemeanor cases pending for more than two years dropped from 538 to 64.
The MoFo team was led by New York partners Ruti Smithline and Gary Lee, with key support provided by New York associates Katie Viggiani and James Newton, as well as senior pro bono counsel Jennifer Brown.