University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name Trowbridge v. Cuomo CJ-NY-0012
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-03455 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On May 10, 2016, four individuals who were arrested in the Bronx for low-level misdemeanors filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the State of New York's Unified Court Systems for failure to provide the constitutionally guaranteed ... read more >
On May 10, 2016, four individuals who were arrested in the Bronx for low-level misdemeanors filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the State of New York's Unified Court Systems for failure to provide the constitutionally guaranteed rights to a speedy trial and due process. The plaintiffs sought class certification for people similarly affected by the structural and systemic court delays in the Bronx Criminal Court.

Specifically, the complaint alleged that the Bronx Criminal Court’s inordinate delays violated the plaintiffs’ Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as New York state’s criminal procedure laws, which require prosecutors to be ready for trial within 90, 60, or 30 days of the commencement of a criminal action depending on the category of misdemeanors. According to the complaint, although there were over 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments in 2015, only 98 went on trial. Further, the few people who managed to exercise their right to trial waited on average 642 days for nonjury and 827 for a jury trial, and many people ended up taking plea bargains and giving up their right to a trial because of the Bronx Criminal Court’s overall dysfunctional administration.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Bronx Defenders and private counsel, sought declaratory and equitable relief. The case was assigned to District Judge George B. Daniels and Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.

On June 30, 2016, the State moved to dismiss because none of the four plaintiffs had cases pending in Bronx Criminal Court and thus lacked standing to sue. The State further argued that the Court should abstain from reviewing the case since the plaintiffs’ claims involved the state judiciary, and that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim. On December 22, 2016, Judge Daniels granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss. First, the Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing and also dismissed Governor Cuomo as a defendant. But the Court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss on abstention grounds because the judge could contemplate granting declaratory and injunctive relief that would not necessarily interfere with or restructure the state court’s lawful authority. The Court also rejected the argument that plaintiffs had failed to state a claim after it found that one of the plaintiffs waited 877 days between his arraignment and a final resolution. The Court allowed the plaintiffs to submit an amended complaint. 2016 WL 7489098.

On January 23, 2017, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On March 8, 2017, the parties met with Judge George B. Daniels and interim pretrial conference was scheduled. The plaintiffs also filed for class certification. While the court was deliberating whether to grant the plaintiff's request for class certification, the parties agreed to stay the litigation while they sought an enforceable settlement agreement over the course of the next six months. After a series of stay extensions, the parties were able to agree to a settlement hearing before a magistrate judge. The court referred the case to Magistrate judge Gabriel Gorenstein on February 12, 2018.

On August 9, 2018, the court entered the parties settlement agreement. The parties agreed to stay the litigation for four years, but the plaintiffs retained the right to reinstate the litigation at any time. If the plaintiffs reinstate litigation within four years, they retain all rights to attorneys fees. However, in the event the plaintiffs do not reinstate within the four year period, their case will be dismissed without prejudice and without costs or fees to any party. In exchange, the defendants agreed to continue to decrease the number of misdemeanor cases pending for more than one year, though the parties did not agree to a legally binding goal. To ensure compliance, the defendants gave the plaintiffs access to records including activity reports, criminal records data, and reports relating to court delay, trial capacity, and the allocation of judicial resources by New York City. This settlement agreement did not include an admission of guilt from the defendants.

The case is ongoing, and as of March 2019 the plaintiffs have not sought to reinstate the litigation.

MJ Koo - 03/27/2017
Keagan Potts - 03/20/2019


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Courts
Disparate Impact
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Funding
Pattern or Practice
Timeliness of case assignment
Wait lists
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) State of New York
Plaintiff Description The Bronx Defenders and several persons seeking misdemeanor trials in the Bronx
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 2018 - 2022
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:16-cv-03455-GBD (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-NY-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/10/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint [ECF# 30]
CJ-NY-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Opposition of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 33]
CJ-NY-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 39] (2016 WL 7489098) (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/21/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 41]
CJ-NY-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/23/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement [ECF# 109]
CJ-NY-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Daniels, George B. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0002 | CJ-NY-0012-0006 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Gorenstein, Gabriel W. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Brown, Jennifer Kay (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Lee, Gary S. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Levy, Scott Duffield (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Lieb, Douglas E. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Maazel, Ilann M. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Newton, James A. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Smithline, Ruti (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Steinberg, Johanna B. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Viggiani, Katie L. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0001 | CJ-NY-0012-0003 | CJ-NY-0012-0005 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lambert, Michelle R. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0004 | CJ-NY-0012-9000
Schneiderman, Eric T. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0004
Wright, Alissa S. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0012-0004 | CJ-NY-0012-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -