By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After almost a year of work presiding over the immense backlog in the Bronx’s criminal court, Brooklyn’s Hon. Patricia DiMango’s hard work has paid off tremendously.
The criminal case backlog in Bronx criminal court was abnormally high, causing concern for top New York Court officials. According to a report conducted by the Office of Court Administration, the Bronx had 3,690 criminal cases that were over 180 days old; and 931 of these cases were more than two years old.
“This acute backlog of felony cases is entirely unacceptable to all of us in the courts and the entire justice community in Bronx County. It simply cannot continue any longer," New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said at the time. In comparison, Brooklyn had 1,566 cases that were over 180 days old, with only 150 of these cases being older than two years.
In January, Judge Lippman announced the reassignment of judges to help resolve the case backlog crisis that was currently occurring in the Bronx. To assist in leading this effort, Lippman enlisted the help of noted Brooklyn Criminal Justice Patricia DiMango. Hon. DiMango, deputy administrative judge of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Criminal Term, has agreed to head this judicial “SWAT team,” a term used by Lippman to describe the reassigned justices.
Lippman and Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti earlier this month announced a dramatic reduction in Bronx’s felony case backlog ─ and a substantial increase in felony trials in the borough ─ since the inception of the DiMango-led SWAT team.
“Hon. Patricia DiMango … did an extraordinary job of presiding over a `blockbuster’ part that successfully resolved hundreds of the oldest felony cases,” said Judge Prudenti.
With DiMango in the lead and with the assistance of other reassigned justices, Bronx’s backlog has been eliminated by more than half, with thousands of felony cases disposed of via the program over the past 10 months. In addition, the median age of the felony caseload has gone down 36 percent since last year, from 371 days to 273 days.
“I am extremely pleased with the dramatic reductions in the Bronx felony backlog and anticipate further advances as we refine measures to more effectively manage the borough’s formidable felony caseload,” said Lippman.
DiMango will be returning to Brooklyn’s court full-time because Hon. Robert Torres has been appointed Bronx County’s administrative judge for criminal matters, relieving Hon. Douglas McKeon who had, since January 2013, served as Bronx’s administrative judge for criminal and civil matters.
Lippman has also instituted new reforms to maintain the success achieved by the SWAT team, including a new court part to handle misdemeanor quality-of-life offenses to focus greater attention on these cases and alleviate caseloads in the court’s other parts. The new reforms will be overseen by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins.