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New York Court System

Why Racial Bias in the New York State Court System Matters to You 

The results of a review of racial bias in the New York State court system were published this month.

 On June 9, 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York appointed Jeh Johnson as Special Adviser on Equal Justice to review hostile opinions about racial groups in the courts. This independent inquiry arose because of race-related issues across the country, including the death of George Floyd, which resulted in unrest and rioting. 

Results of the Independent Review on Racial Bias 

Not surprisingly, the review found that racial bias exists in the New York court system. The study cited specific examples of bias: 

  • Court officers could not report incidents of unfair treatment because of adverse career consequences or 
  • Court officers yelled more at litigants of color or at those who did not speak English as a first language 
  • Court officers are more likely to require litigants and attorneys of color to show identification or enforce the policy of no cell phone usage against them. 

We at MOWK Law understand that this widespread racial bias against individuals of color or from ethnic backgrounds can result in unfavorable results in court. As this study confirmed, we also understand that employees of color or ethnic employees may be treated unfairly in their employment in the New York court system.

Recommendations Resulting from the Review on Racial Bias IN New York Courts

Mr. Johnson and his team interviewed hundreds of people across the court system. They came up with many recommendations to address and fix racial bias problems that are rampant in the New York court system, including:

  • Court system’s leadership should have zero tolerance for racial bias, applicable to everyone working in the New York court system.
  • All court personnel should be trained against racial bias and informed about cultural sensitivity.
  • Jurors should be educated about biases and prejudices they are exposed to in society, including with specific rules and jury instructions.
  • Court personnel should adhere to a policy restricting use of social media for racially or culturally offensive remarks that reflect poorly on the court system. 
  • There should be better practices to improve complaints and investigations to better handle racial bias and race discrimination incidents.
  • Legislation and rules should be reviewed for possible bias or negative impact on people of color.

What this means for You

Have you been involved in the New York court system on a civil matter or criminal defense matter? If so, have you had a negative experience due to your race? Would any of the Special Adviser’s recommendations help address your experience in the New York court system? 

Have you been employed by the New York court system and have been treated unfairly because of your race or ethnicity?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may have recourse.

New York Lawyers Familiar with the Court System

If you have gone through the New York court system and have been treated unfairly because of your race or ethnicity, you may want to explore whether you have options to address your outcome. If you have been employed by the New York Court system and have been treated unfairly due to your race or ethnicity, you may have an employment action. 

The skilled attorneys at MOWK Law can help assess your situation. Please contact us for more information.