Trials & Litigation

Encouraged by speedier trials in Bronx misdemeanor court, plaintiffs agree to stay litigation

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The Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit public defender group, has agreed to stay a lawsuit claiming lengthy delays in the New York borough’s misdemeanor cases were depriving their clients of a right to a speedy trial.

The settlement stays the litigation for four years, though the plaintiffs have reserved the right to reinstate the lawsuit during that period, the New York Law Journal reports. The deal was reached after trial delays were significantly reduced.

The agreement requires court administrators to track cases where a person demands a trial and to share data with the plaintiffs, according to press releases from Bronx Defenders and Morrison & Foerster, which were co-counsel along with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. The New York Times also has coverage.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, the backlog of misdemeanor cases has been cut sharply. Now only 513 misdemeanor cases have been pending for more than a year, down from 2,378 cases—a reduction of more than 78 percent.

In an interview with the New York Law Journal, Scott Levy, special counsel to the criminal defense practice at the Bronx Defenders, attributed the reduction to decriminalization of some cases and a move to keep defendants from being sent to Rikers Island.

The suit was originally filed in 2016 and amended last year to add new plaintiffs.

The case is Trowbridge v. DiFiore. The settlement still requires court approval.

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