The state’s top judge wants to reduce a huge, pandemic-related backlog of criminal cases across the city — leading cops to fear that cut-rate justice will embolden criminals, The Post has learned.
The unprecedented plan would bring to the Big Apple a concept known as the “rocket docket,” in which felony cases get quickly resolved without first being presented to a grand jury for indictment.
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore held a conference in mid-December with all five of the Big Apple’s district attorneys to discuss the 16,000 indictments that are on hold because grand juries are not being convened due to the coronavirus crisis, a spokesman for the state court system said.
The staggering number is twice the 8,000 cases that were pending at the same time last year.
The group decided to have Bronx Criminal Court Supervising Judge George Grasso oversee the creation of special courts to “focus on resolving as many of these pending cases as possible but not in any particular way,” spokesman Lucian Chalfen said.
Plans call for two of the special courts — or “parts” — in each borough except Staten Island, which will have only one, Chalfen said
As many as 1,000 cases in each borough will be docketed for court conferences beginning Jan. 11, Chalfen said.
A former city judge told The Post that the inevitable outcome would be that defendants “are going to be getting sweetheart deals.”
“Right now, you cannot threaten that we’re sending this out to trial,” the ex-jurist said. “That’s when people usually cave, but they can’t threaten that anymore. They’re going to have to give away the courthouse.”
NYPD sources blasted the plan, with some worried that prosecutors will resort to offering no-jail plea bargains and conditional discharges — or just simply drop some cases.
“If they dismiss hundreds of these cases, we might as well do a remake of the movie ‘Escape from New York,’ ” one cop said.
Another cop predicted that prosecutors “will probably throw out all those commercial burglaries during the early June riots in Manhattan that caused millions of dollars in damage.”
“What will prevent the people who did these crimes from doing them again?” the cop said. “The streets will be full of criminals who should not only be in jail but who never even went to trial.”
Spokespeople for the DA’s offices didn’t return requests for comment on Thursday.
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