After having served for 11 years as New York’s top administrative judge and for seven years as chief judge on New York’s highest court, Jonathan Lippman left the judiciary on Thursday, December 31st, at the mandatory retirement age of 70, reported NY Daily News.
Judge Lippman’s dedication and principles in the law interpretation and execution made him a very special and honorable judiciary. He was an excellent administrator, too, enabling the public a wider access to the courts.
According to NY Daily News, “the bright stars on Lippman’s record include a fealty to the First Amendment unwavering enough to invalidate a well-intentioned law against cyberbullying as an infringement on free speech.”
One of the most recent significant reforms implemented by New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was his active support of changes to the criminal justice system.
In October 2015, The Jewish Voice reported how Judge Lippman addressed an “unsafe and unfair bail system with the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. Back then he stated that the fractious system kept tens of thousands of people behind bars for an indeterminate period because they could not afford the bail amounts set for them.
He also said that in the near future, powers will be given to New York City criminal court judges to have a broader mandate to both review and decrease amounts of bail, with the objective being the significant reduction of the number of people currently incarcerated in the state’s prison system, according to a WSJ report.
Modifying the state’s bail system has been a formidable challenge for legislators in Albany, but Judge Lippman said that similar proposals can be implemented by the judiciary without lawmakers’ approval.
Part of the changes in the bail system include one judge in each borough of the city who will automatically review all misdemeanor cases in which defendants are unable to come up with the bail money required to set them free until hearing or trial.
Judge Lippman said that the automatic review allows the judge in question to decide whether the original bail set should be adjusted in any substantive manner. He added that, “We all recognize that a bail system that punishes people before they are convicted, and that punishes poor people for being poor, is inconsistent with basic principles of justice.”
While giving judges more discretionary authority over bail amounts has received approval from those in the judiciary and elsewhere, others have voiced concern that any modification of the criminal justice system take into account the effects it would have on public safety.
Other measures proffered by Judge Lippman include broadening payment options for bail requirements and periodic review of cases by judges as they move toward trial date. Also being explored are prisoner release programs in Manhattan that would involve court supervision and electronic monitoring.
Without a question, former judge, Jonathan Lippman is a man and the kind of judiciary representative that New York needed and can be thankful for.