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Reorder in the courts: Clean up New York’s tangled judicial branch


The New York State court system is the most confusing, complicated jumble of judges and justices this side of Kafka’s Prague.

Don’t just take our word for it. The woman atop the mess, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, is urging a reorganization that echoes the calls of her predecessors going back decades.

There are 11 different courts handling different matters. Or it is 13 different courts? Actually, it’s both, depending on where in the state you are, all meaning more headaches and higher costs for litigants (and patronage for party bosses and legislators).

Every other state and the federal judiciary do just fine with three level of courts: trial benches, appeals tribunals and a supreme court. Why don’t we? Never mind the confusion that here, the Supreme Court is the lowest court, but the most important of the lower courts.

The only way to fix all this, of course, is to crack open the state Constitution, which is why this page supported the Constitutional Convention on the ballot in 2017. (Fearmongering unions and politicians teamed up to torpedo that with the voters.)

Instead of waiting until the next shot at a convention in 2037, the Legislature must advance DiFiore’s proposed amendment by passing it in two successive sessions before final ratification in a statewide referendum.

New York State has been weighed down by a Byzantine judicial system for over 100 years. That’s over 100 years too long.