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Court Restructuring

2012 Campaign for Court Simplification





New York has perhaps the most complex and convoluted court system in the country.    Over the last two hundred years, lawmakers have allowed this system designed to serve a population a fraction the size of the current population to develop haphazardly and with insufficient planning or oversight.    The result is the current morass of eleven different trial courts and four unbalanced appellate divisions.    This archaic and inconsistent structure is needlessly confusing.    A Constitutional Amendment to bring the Court into the 21 st   century offers an opportunity for every population that uses the courts and provides for a more just, efficient, and equitable system.


The Fund for Modern Courts has established a Task Force on the Simplification of the New York State court system. Consolidating the eleven separate trial courts into a single court of first instance will streamline judicial operations, save money, help families and increase appellate level diversity. We support a passage of a Constitutional Amendment that would simplify the New York court system by creating a two-part structure, with a new Supreme Court -- consisting of the current Supreme Court, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate's Court and the Court of Claims, and a new District Court -- consisting of the current District Courts on Long Island, the New York City Civil and Criminal Courts, and the City Courts outside of New York City.


We ask that you add your organization's name to the newly formed Statewide Coalition for Court Simplification and work with a growing coalition of groups across the state to achieve this much needed goal.


Court simplification will


•  Remove procedural and jurisdictional obstacles associated with a multi-layered trial court structure, to reduce the cost and time of litigation.

•  Simplify the trial court structure by reducing the number of courts and thereby make it more accessible and easier to understand for the public and the Bar.

•  Ease the difficulties experienced by children and families in family-related litigation (e.g., cases involving divorce, child custody and support, family offense), while promoting greater fairness and consistency of result.

•  Consolidate the State's lower courts and expand their powers, enabling them to better serve local communities. (This amendment would not affect Town and Village Justice Courts.)

•  Insure a more appropriate distribution of resources to the various courts, especially those that handle family matters.

•  Greatly broaden the pool of judges that can be appointed to the Appellate Courts.



For more information/questions contact Denise Kronstadt, Deputy Executive Director/Director of Advocacy, the Fund for Modern Courts advocacy@moderncourts.org

To Join the Coalition please click this link:  Coalition Membership


Join Us, List in Formation

African Services Committee

Atlantic Legal Foundation

Behavioral Health Services North, Inc.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Business Council of New York

Business Council of Westchester

CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity

Children's Law Center (CLC)

Citizens Union

Columbia Law School Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic

Common Cause/NY

Day One

Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims

Empire Justice Center

Fund for Modern Courts

Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce

Hope's Door, Inc.

Human Services Council


Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence

League of Women Voters/NYC

Legal Information For Families Today (LIFT)

Long Island Association, Inc.

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

MFY Legal Services


National Federation of Independent Business in New York

New York City Bar Association

New York County Lawyers' Association

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)

New York State Bar Association

New York State League of Women Voters

Pace Women's Justice Center

Partnership for the City of New York

Project Permanent Group, LLC

Rural Law Center of New York

Safe Horizon

Sanctuary for Families

Spanish Action League

STEPS to End Family Violence

The Door - A Center of Alternatives, Inc.

The Legal Project

The St. Luke's-Roosevelt Crime Victims Treatment Center

The Westchester County Association

Urban Justice Center

Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Inc.

Voices of Women Organizing Project

Western New York Law Center, Inc.







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