Mayoral summit seeks solutions for ‘antiquated’ criminal justice system in NYC

New York City formed task forces aimed at unclogging bottlenecks in the criminal justice system and bringing the “antiquated” network into the 21st century, mayor Eric Adams said Sunday at the conclusion of a two-day crime summit.

The three task forces will address: discovery or the sharing of facts and documents before a criminal trial, mental health and “urgent action” items.

Adams said he wants to create a central system where defendants, their attorneys, and judges can have easy access to evidence that local prosecutors intend to use at trials.

“There’s no reason [why] we’re not using a centralized portal to share that information, and we are going to look at the technology that’s out there that allows us to look at the amount of information and evidence that both defense attorneys and prosecutors must look at, and judges must look at,” Adams said.

He added, “We found some real common grounds about this antiquated infrastructure, and we’re going to zero in on them.”

The mayor also said there is no reason why prosecutors and defense attorneys, and others must wait “hours” only to have a “30-second” appearance before a judge.

The mayor held a question-and-answer briefing with journalists after the conclusion of the weekend summit, which was attended by people who work in the criminal justice system, including police officers, prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys.

The mayor’s chief counsel, Brendan McGuire, said the city is exploring ways to serve first-time defendants who suffer from mental illness by possibly placing a mobile service or “care van” in front of courthouses to provide mental health and related services.

The city is also looking at technology to help streamline the sharing of discovery or information and documents that prosecutors are required by law to turn over to defendants and their attorneys before trials, said Frank Carone, the mayor’s chief of staff.

Currently, Carone said, district attorneys in each of the city’s five boroughs have their own system of saving and storing information submitted by the police and others in criminal cases. He said these systems are not readily available to defendants, their attorneys, and judges.

“We’re looking at ways of using technology to make one unified system, where it could be readily available to all the relevant parties, including the judges as well,” Carone said.