Contact: Andrew Rush
Director, Media Services & Public Affairs

September 18, 2008


New York State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) today urged Governor Paterson to veto a bill (A.11715/S.8661) that would change the jury selection process in New York State. The Association joins the City of New York, the Committee for Modern Courts, and the New York State League of Women Voters in opposing the bill, which was sent to the Governor on Monday.

The new measure would create an immediate appeal process if litigants believe jury selection procedures have been violated. Supervising judges in each judicial district would be designated for this purpose. Additionally, the bill would allow the parties to bring an Article 78 proceeding if they think the supervising judge has failed to apply an authorized method of jury selection.

"While the bill now on Governor Paterson's desk is intended to clarify the jury selection process in civil cases, in fact, it would severely disrupt the process," Leber said. "Chief Judge Kaye has gone to great lengths to streamline a once cumbersome process and if this bill is enacted, it would place new undue burdens on the entire legal system. The jury selection process could be substantially delayed, making civil cases even more difficult for clients, attorneys, and jurors."

Leber noted that in 1994 and 2004 the New York State Bar Association considered whether New Yorkwould benefit from such a change and concluded, both times, that the needs of the courts and litigants across the State are too diverse to adopt a single uniform standard.

Leber also noted that the timing of the bill raised considerable concerns, saying, "In addition, this bill was introduced and passed in the waning hours of the legislative session, leaving only a very small and inadequate timeframe for review, analysis and public input. An issue with such broad implication to the entire court system requires more input from attorneys across New York State. We strongly urge Governor Paterson to veto this bill."

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.