Further Information: David Bookstaver, New York State Communication Director Unified Court System Mai Yee, Communication Officer (212)428-2500 Jonathan Lippman

Chief Administrative Judge

Release: Immediate, December 16, 1997

Newly Appointed Committee to Target

Grand Jury Reform in New York State

NEW YORK—Four years after the Jury Project launched systemwide reforms for the petit jury system in New York State, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced the appointment of the Grand Jury Project—a blue-ribbon panel charged with scrutinizing all aspects of the grand jury system and making recommendations for improvement.

"A careful examination of the administrative practices of our grand jury system is the crucial next step in our program of jury reform in New York," said Chief Judge Kaye. "Thanks in large measure to the ground-breaking work of the 1993 Jury Project, remarkable strides have been achieved in improving New York's petit jury system. Even as we continue strenuous efforts to make petit jury service better, we announce today a new direction in jury reform—improvement of the grand jury system in New York. Under the leadership of Stephen Kaufman, a highly respected private practitioner with extensive grand jury experience, I have full confidence that the Grand Jury Project will move forward to write the blueprint for future change."

As opposed to petit jurors who sit on trials, grand jurors decide whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed with prosecution in a felony case. Under New York law, out of the 23 jurors that comprise a grand jury, only 12 are needed to indict.

Chief Administrative Judge Lippman noted, "Only four percent of all jurors who serve each year in New York are grand jurors, yet this small group accounts for approximately 20% of the total juror fees. The disparity in these numbers gives rise to concerns about the efficiency of grand jury operations. Also, unlike the term of service for petit jurors, which has been steadily decreasing over the past four years due to the court system's jury reform program, the term of service for grand jurors still remains long—from a few weeks to two months. The Grand Jury Project will address these issues and others that can impact on the quality of the grand juror experience, as well as examine ways to ensure representation from a diverse cross-section of society. This newly formed committee will take the necessary first steps toward revamping an archaic grand jury system."

The Grand Jury Project, modeled after the 1993 Jury Project which laid the groundwork for substantial reforms of the petit jury system, will undertake a comprehensive review of all operational aspects of the grand jury system, including: (1) its basic function and efficiency; (2) qualification and summoning; (3) selection and utilization; and (4) the jury experience.

Every year, over 25,000 grand jurors serve in New York. For these jurors, the average number of days served ranges from 8 to 28 days, compared with statewide average of 2 days for petit jurors.

The Grand Jury Project members have been appointed by the Chief Judge and the Chief Administrative Judge and include prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, academics and jury commissioners from around the state. Stephen E. Kaufman, a private practitioner based in Manhattan, chairs the committee. Former Administrative Judge Robert G.M. Keating has been appointed vice chair. The list of members is attached.


Grand Jury Project - Member List

Stephen Kaufman, Chair, private practitioner, Manhattan

Robert G.M. Keating, Vice Chair, former Administrative Judge

Robert Baum- Federal Defender's Office, New York City

Judge Juanita Bing Newton - State Supreme Court, Manhattan

Joel Cohen- Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Manhattan

Tandra Dawson - Bronx District Attorney's Office

Gloria D'Amico - County Clerk, Queens County

Judge Mary Donohue - State Supreme Court, 3rd Judicial District

John Doyle - Anderson, Kill & Olick, Manhattan

Vincent Doyle, III - Connors & Vilardo, Buffalo

Judge Joseph Fahey - Onondaga County Court

Professor Bennett Gershman - Pace Law School

Norman Goodman - County Clerk, New York County

Hillary Hassler - Manhattan District Attorney's Office

James Hayden - Chemung County District Attorney

Richard Healy - Wayne County District Attorney

Herculano Izquierdo - Manhattan District Attorney's Office

Robert Kaye - Brooklyn District Attorney's Office

Professor Gary Kelder - Syracuse Law School

Louis Liman - U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Professor Debra Livingston - Columbia Law School

Peter Lynch - Lynch & Lynch, Albany

Judge Martin Marcus - State Supreme Court, Bronx

Dennis Murphy - Legal Aid Society, New York City

Gary Naftalis - Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, Manhattan

Joan Ritter - Queens District Attorney's Office

Irene Schech - Commissioner of Jurors, Putnam County

Barbara Underwood - U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Gloria Zinone - Commissioner of Jurors, Monroe County

Counsel: Stephen Saxl - Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel

Jeffrey Sklaroff - Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel