The New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) applauds yesterday’s announcement by the Unified Court System that, “[i]n response to recent reports of an increase in hate crimes in New York, including a dramatic increase in incidents involving antisemitism,” its Judicial Institute and Office of Diversity and Inclusion are planning a series of training programs designed to “focus on the impact of identity-based hatred and bias and the strategies for eliminating them from our court system.” We also commend UCS’s specific choice to focus the first of these sessions, scheduled to take place on January 23, 2024, on antisemitism (with sessions on hate crimes and Islamophobia to follow in the coming months).
This announcement came after a weekend that saw more than 400 false bomb threats against Jewish facilities nationwide, according to a CNN report. This continues a disturbing trend: as we noted in the statement we issued last month in praise of Governor Hochul’s strong denouncement of antisemitism in the wake of the terror attacks of October 7, 2023, while the overall number of bias crimes in New York City in October 2023 was more than double the number in October 2022 (and while a number of different types of bias crimes increased), no type of bias crime saw anything close to the increase that was seen in antisemitic bias crimes. Unfortunately, the same was true for November 2023, which saw 62 incidents of antisemitic bias crimes (out of 96 overall), up from 47 antisemitic incidents (out of 72 overall) during the same period in 2022. November 2023 saw an increase in other kinds of bias crimes as well – for example, there were seven anti-Muslim bias crimes (as compared to zero in November 2022), six anti-Black bias crimes (as compared to two in November 2022), and eleven bias crimes based on sexual orientation (as compared to nine in November 2022).
Yesterday’s announcement builds on the prior work of Jeh Johnson, in his October 2020 Report of the Special Advisor on Equal Justice in the New York State Courts, which documented multiple instances of racism on the part of staff and others in the court system. We applaud Chief Judge Wilson and Chief Administrative Judge Joseph Zayas for their continuing efforts to eliminate all forms of bias in our courts.
We repeat what we said before: none of this is acceptable, and NYCLA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate and hate speech. We therefore celebrate UCS leadership’s “commitment to promoting a court system that is free from all forms of bias and discrimination and to fostering a judiciary where people see each other’s humanity, communicate effectively with one another, and where everyone feels safe.” And we fully support the choice to focus at this time on antisemitism – which, as recent events and statistics clearly show, has (at least for now) taken center stage in this shameful trend. We stand ready to assist in those efforts in any way we can.
About the New York County Lawyers Association
The New York County Lawyers Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations 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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