David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: Feb. 16, 2006
|Court Exclusively for Sex Offense Cases Opens in Westchester: New York Becomes First State to Establish Adult Sex Offense Courts|
WESTCHESTER - The official opening of the Westchester County Sex Offense Court—a court dedicated exclusively to the handling of sex offense cases—was inaugurated in a ceremony today by heads of New York’s judiciary, along with other state and local government officials. New York is the first state in the nation to establish such courts, with the Westchester court being one of three pilot sex offense courts operating statewide currently.
The Westchester Sex Offense Court hears cases involving felony sex offense charges, promoting a comprehensive approach to the disposition of these sensitive cases. For maximal continuity and accountability, one judge handles all the cases, tracking them through to disposition, including probation supervision if appropriate. The judge is assisted by a specially trained team of prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim agencies, probation officers, treatment providers and court personnel who undergo a comprehensive training program and participate in regular interagency meetings to ensure best practices in timely case resolution, victim safety, post-conviction accountability and public safety.
“New York breaks new ground in this area of criminal justice, becoming the first state in the nation with adult courts specifically designed to adjudicate sex offense cases,” said New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye. “Sex Offense Court is the latest adaptation of our problem-solving court model. It directs a laser-like focus on the problem of sex offense crimes, marshaling a team of highly trained personnel from the district attorney’s office, defense bar, Probation Department and victims agencies, and presided over by a single dedicated judge. With the increased coordination and communication fostered among these key parties, sex offense courts can yield effective, timely dispositions that safeguard victim and community safety, respect defendants’ rights and best serve the interests of justice.”
Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman added, “Our problem-solving courts cannot function in a vacuum; success is an impossibility without the support and involvement of all the stakeholders. Therefore, we are very much indebted to our partner agencies for their vital participation in this exciting endeavor. I am grateful to Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, County Executive Andrew Spano, Senator Nick Spano, Probation Commissioner Rocco Pozzi, local victim services agencies and defense bar, for their invaluable assistance in making the Westchester Sex Offense Court a reality. I would also like to thank Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Judy Harris Kluger and Ninth District Administrative Judge Francis Nicolai for their part in guiding this important project to completion. I have no doubt the Westchester Sex Offense Court will become a model for similar courts elsewhere, both in New York and throughout the country.”
In New York, sex offense courts have also been established this year in Oswego and Nassau Counties. Judge Gerald E. Loehr is the Presiding Judge of the Westchester Sex Offense Court.