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FOREWORD TO THE CRIMINAL DEFENDANT HANDBOOK
Judith S. Kaye
New York Court of Appeals
In 1993, the Honorable Jack
B. Weinstein, of the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of New York, presided over a complex criminal
case involving eighteen defendants, all of whom required
interpreters. Having ordered the governments to provide
defendants with Spanish translations of numerous documents
so each would be better able to understand and participate
in the proceedings, Judge Weinstein observed:
[ I ]t would be useful
to provide for those not familiar with the American legal
system a short primer in the federal criminal legal system.
Such a pamphlet could indicate briefly such matters as
how our criminal justice system operates and what it means
to waive an indictment or plead guilty; what are the elements
of a trial; and what are the roles of grand and petty
juries, attorneys, judges and magistrate judges. It would
not be a comprehensive statement of rights. The various
Metropolitan Area bar associations could cooperate in
providing such a pamphlet to be translated into some of
the languages routinely used in this court.
United States v. Mosquera,
et al., 816 F.
Supp. 168, 177 (E.D.N.Y. 1993).
Shortly thereafter, a Joint
Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New
York and the New York County Lawyers' Association was formed
to respond to this call. This volume is the fruits of their
labors. I suspect Judge Weinstein will forgive their focus
on the State system, in which the vast majority of criminal
cases are adjudicated.
The criminal justice system
is complex and, for those who stand accused, often frightening.
The fear and confusion are compounded for defendants with
limited command of English, of whom there are large numbers
in New York State. Fairness demands that everyone who enters
the system understand the nature of the proceedings, and
this pamphlet will contribute substantially to achieving
this goal. A succinct explanation of the entire criminal
process, from arrest to appeal, it does a superb job of
making a complicated system clear. In producing it, the
Joint Committee has performed a service of enormous value
to the courts, the bar and the public.
Thanks are due to Judge Weinstein
for inspiring this important effort; to all the members
of the Joint Committee, whose hard work and dedication brought
the project to fruition; to Barbara Jaffe, Esq., the Joint
Committee Chair, who led the venture with expertise and
distinction; and to Alan Rothstein, Counsel to the Executive
Secretary of the Association of the Bar of the City of New
York , who helped coordinate the enterprise.
Hon. Judith S.
Chief Judge, New York Court of Appeals
The Joint Committee which
prepared this Handbook is made up of members of the Association
of the Bar of the City of New York (Special Committee on
Public Service and Education and the Committee on Criminal
Courts) and New York County Lawyers' Association (Criminal
Justice Section): Barbara Jaffe, Esq., Chair of the Joint
Committee; Hon. Douglas S. Wong, Judge, New York City Criminal
Court; Hon. Patricia Nunez, Judge, New York City Criminal
Court; Neil Checkman, Esq.; Michael Gerber, Esq.; Edward
Hamlin, Esq.; and William Knisley, Esq.
We wish to acknowledge the
invaluable assistance rendered by Hon. Ann Pfau, Deputy
Chief Administrative Judge for Management and Support; Hon.
Juanita Bing Newton, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for
Justice Initiatives; Ronald Y. Younkins, Esq., Executive
Assistant to Judge Pfau; Deborah Kaplan, Principal Court
Attorney to Justice Newton; Patricia Henry, Counsel to Hon.
Judy Harris Kluger, Administrative Judge, New York City
Criminal Court; Hon. Barry A. Cozier; Alan Rothstein, General
Counsel, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York;
Maria L. Imperial, Executive Director, City Bar Fund; Elena
Ajayi, Grants Manager, City Bar Fund; and John Macaulay,
Esq., Managing Attorney, and Akira Arroyo, Program Coordinator,
the Robert B. McKay Community Outreach Law Program, Association
of the Bar of the City of New York. Also providing assistance
and advice were Klaus Eppler, Esq., past President, New
York County Lawyers' Association; Irwin Davison, Esq., former
Executive Director, New York County Lawyers' Association;
Hon. Ruth Pickholz and Norman L. Reimer, Esq., former Co-Chairs,
Criminal Justice Section, New York County Lawyers' Association;
Patrick Dugan, Esq., Chief, Rackets Bureau, New York County
District Attorney's Office; Hon. Barbara S. Jones; Hon.
Charles Tejada; Hon. James Yates; Robert M. Baum, Esq.,
former Attorney-in-Charge, The Legal Aid Society, Criminal
Defense Division; Katherine N. Lapp, Esq., Director of Criminal
Justice Services of the State of New York; Joyce B. David,
Esq.; Daniel Alessandrino, Deputy
Chief Clerk V; Norma Meacham, former Director of Human Resources,
Office of Court Administration, State of New York; Barry
Sullivan, Principal Court Analyst; Margarita Martinez, Senior
Court Interpreter; and William Clark, Chief Court Attorney,
New York City Criminal Court.
We would also like to recognize
Carolyne Byrne and Helena Coronado, volunteers for the Robert
B. McKay Community Outreach Law Program, who were responsible
for translating the guide from English to Spanish.
The Chinese language version
of the Handbook was made possible through a generous grant
from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, C. Virginia
Fields. It was translated by John Lau and validated by Guanrong
The French version was made
possible through the generous donation of time by translators
Trudie Marmorek and Raynold Abellard and validators Barbara
Grcevic and Gerald Lebovits.
The Korean version was generously
donated by the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater
New York, through its President, Helen Kim, and member Chanwoo
The Russian version was made
possible through the generous donation of time by translator
Albert Federov and validators Tatiana Perez and Erena Baybik.
The Joint Committee dedicates
this handbook to Hon. Jack B. Weinstein,
United States District
Judge, E.D.N.Y., who inspired this project.
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