The Brooklyn Bench Pre: 1912

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One gets a clear idea of the size of Brooklyn when he considers that each business day there are upwards of forty judges sitting in almost as many court rooms throughout the borough dispensing justice.

 Our courts are numerous and exercise differing jurisdictions. At the top stands the Appellate Division of the Second Department, which meets in the Borough Hall. Brooklyn is the overwhelming factor in the second judicial district and so furnishes most of the work of that court. To it are brought all the appeals from the supreme and county courts.

Brooklyn has twenty Supreme Court Justices. Four of these are assigned to the Appellate Division just referred to and three sit in what is called the Appellate Term to hear appeals from the municipal courts. This leaves thirteen justices for the work of the department. There are usually three justices holding court in the other counties of the district and thus there are constantly in Brooklyn about ten supreme court justices for trial and special term work.

Ranking next in importance comes the County Court, which while having civil jurisdiction we yet regard as the principal criminal court. Kings county has two County Judges, but the work is so heavy that she frequently borrows one or more county judges from other counties.

A distinctly criminal court of lesser importance is the Court of Special Sessions. It tries those who have been held by the city magistrates upon minor charges. It is composed of three justices.

The ground work of the criminal prosecutions may be said to be done by the eight district courts presided over by the City Magistrates. These officials are examining and committing magistrates. Their jurisdiction to punish is very limited. One special part of this court is its Domestic Relations Court, a tribunal devoted exclusively to the examination of differences arising between married couples.

Domestic troubles present problems for the judge all their own. Sometimes to punish the father and husband is really to punish the family. It is often better to send the erring wife back to the home than to a cell. It is well that these cases can be given special study.

There are several Municipal Courts having civil jurisdiction up to $250. These settle all the small disputes of the trades-people and of the wage-earning classes. it is from these courts that appeals are taken to the Appellate Term.

Kings County has, of course, a Surrogate's Court. She has but one Surrogate, although the business of the court is very extensive. The clerk of this court is permitted by statute to relieve the Surrogate of much of his former work. This makes the selection of the Surrogate's clerk an important matter.

In the Post Office building on Washington Street is the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Here preside two Federal Judges, exercising the peculiar jurisdiction that attaches to a United States court.

Brooklyn shows in her courts the most recent ideas. Her judges, as a class, are men of the highest type. To first offenders her courts are lenient. For old offenders she has the sternest treatment.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Brooklyn Bench Pre: 1912
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Brooklyn, the home borough of New York City: its family life, educational advantages, civic virtues; physical attractions and varied industries. Brooklyn: unknown, 1912.
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