He jokingly refers to himself as Manhattan's King of Prostitution. Might as well be the King of Illegal Street Vending, Public Urination, Graffiti, Disorderly Conduct, Subway Fare-Beating and Aggressive Panhandling, too. These are the cases New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Weinberg presides over every weekday at the Midtown Community Court.
They've studied recidivism among their just-released-from-prison peers, and school safety, to little effect. Maybe the third time's the charm. Next month, the 17 teenage members of the Youth Justice Board, a project of the Center for Court Innovation, will release their recommendations to improve the city's Family Court System.
The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center on Kingston Ave. sits quietly perched in the middle of an urban war zone, dispensing peace, nurturing, learning and common sense in a neighborhood that desperately needs more of it.
The lawyers and the policy makers who launched the Center for Court Innovation 10 years ago knew it would be a splendid idea to expand on the experimental Midtown Community Court and create a formal research and development program for the New York court system. But they had little inkling of how attractive the concept would be to judiciaries beyond the state, and beyond America's borders. (subscription required)
On a rainy Friday afternoon in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn, New York, Judge Alex M. Calabrese presides over the only courtroom in a community justice center located a block from the Red Hook Houses, one of the largest housing projects in Brooklyn. He sits there surrounded by lawyers and clerks, defendants and court officers—all the ingredients of a cinematic court scene. However, the plots and climaxes that take place in this courtroom are not typical of any television program.