“The Process is the Punishment”
by Colin Rule
Novo Justice Blog by Colin Rule, article by William Glaberson, NYT
William Glaberson, NYT:
“Court delays of as long as five years in felony cases have pushed the Bronx criminal courts into the bottom ranks of courts nationally, reaching what even the judges call crisis levels.
But that backlog has a less-noted companion. The courts are so dysfunctional that those accused of minor offenses — misdemeanors like trespassing or driving with a suspended license — have all but lost the fundamental guarantee of the American legal system: the right to a trial.
The case of Mr. Zapata would usually be overlooked in the flood of 50,000 Bronx misdemeanor filings a year. But he was part of a special legal-defense effort led by the Bronx Defenders, which provides legal representation to poor Bronx residents charged with crimes. That effort tested the borough’s courts by trying to bring 54 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases to trial for clients who had been arrested as part of New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk program and wanted to fight the charges.
Instead, these defendants got a through-the-looking glass criminal justice system where charges that were punishable by a maximum sentence of three months in jail could take many times that just winding toward an always elusive trial. And when the increasingly elastic speedy-trial rules of the Bronx were finally stretched too far by delay after delay, prosecutors would sometimes drop the cases as if they were never quite worth their time anyway…”
Colin Rule is CEO of Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc. ("RIS"), home of Mediate.com, MediateUniversity.com, Arbitrate.com, CaseloadManager.com and a number of additional leading online dispute resolution initiatives. From 2017 to 2020, Colin was Vice President for Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies. Tyler acquired Modria.com, an ODR provider that Colin co-founded, in 2017. Previously, from 2003 to 2011, Colin was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. Further, Colin co-founded Online Resolution in 1999, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, and served as its CEO and President. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.
Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002, and co-author of The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection, published by the ABA in 2017. Colin received the first Frank Sander Award for Innovation in ADR from the American Bar Association in 2020, and the Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) in 2013. Colin holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and Colin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997. You can read many of Colin's articles and see some of his talks at colinrule.com/writing.
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