NEW YORK COUNTY
14 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Anita Aboulafia 212-267-6646, ext. 225 (phone) 212-406-9252 (fax) email@example.com
NYCLA RESPONDS TO CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION REPORT
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 26, 2005 – The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) issued a report today, titled “Administrative Law Judge Reform Report,” in response to the New York City Charter Revision Commission’s final report recommending reforms in the administrative justice system. The Commission’s stated goals were to have the “highest standards of adjudicatory practice to ensure that disputes continue to be resolved fairly, impartially, efficiently, and consistency.” Although the NYCLA report praises Mayor Michael Bloomberg for raising the issue of reform along with the Commission’s efforts to effect change, it concludes that “The Commission’s reforms do not go far enough.”
According to Norman L. Reimer, NYCLA President, “For the vast majority of New Yorkers, the face of justice in our community is what they see in the context of administrative proceedings involving a wide range of City agencies. Unfortunately, what they see is not a pretty picture. There is a sense of injustice and arbitrariness to the process, which leaves many with residual distrust in the impartiality of the adjudicative process.” He concludes, “A comprehensive set of rules and procedures to insure fairness and impartiality applicable to all New York City Administrative Law Judges is a much needed and long overdue reform.”
Some of the issues are:
Code of Professional Conduct
The Commission’s report recommends a ballot initiative that would “require the Mayor and Chief ALJ of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings… to jointly issue rules establishing one or more code or codes of professional conduct for the City’s Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) and Hearing Officers.”
NYCLA is in favor of this initiative.
Lack of Governing Principles
After a careful assessment of the administrative tribunal system, the NYCLA report concludes, “The City lacks a consistent set of principles governing all agencies that employ Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in administrative tribunals. In the absence of such a set of rules, each agency is permitted to manage the administrative hearings however it chooses. This ad hoc approach to justice makes it impossible to insure that litigants will receive a consistent or even minimally acceptable adjudication before New York City administrative tribunals.” Basically, when you walk into an administrative tribunal in the City, you should not expect a fair trial. You may get one, but you cannot expect it.
Administrative Law Judge Coordinator
The Commission’s report recommends the establishment of an ALJ Coordinator position without, however, providing a job description or budget for the position.
NYCLA’s report states, “Only after the City has established a uniform set of governing principles. should the Mayor create a system to insure that City agencies comply with those principles. At that point, with the predicates established, including its duties and responsibilities, the Mayor could create an Administrative Law Judge Coordinator to effect necessary reforms and oversee a fair and impartial administrative tribunal system.”
The NYCLA report, prepared by a subcommittee of its Task Force on Judicial Selection, concludes, “Fortunately, additional study is not necessary to develop the needed reforms as both the State and Federal governments have successfully tackled many of the issues confronting the City and much can be accomplished quickly and simply by following their examples.” NYCLA looks forward to working with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his representatives to create a better system.
New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.
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