Proposed Legislative Amendment on Judiciary

Amendment Purpose: 
1967 Constitutional Convention Amendment: Counties have the option to adopt district courts outside of New York City
Summary of Amendment: 
  • Requires submission to county voters as to whether a District Court shall be established. 

Article V


Section 4. The article provides for a mandatory referendum in every county of the state, except those comprising New York City and those counties in which a district court presently exists, on the question of whether a district court system should be established. Upon establishment of a district court in any county, inferior courts therein may be abolished.

Legislative Amendment Text: 

Article V


§ II. a. The legislature shall establish a district court system for the counties outside the city of New York in which a district court system does not exist or is not in operation prior to the operative date of this constitution.

b. For the district courts established hereunder, provision may be made by general law applicable to all or classes of counties; or by special law as hereinafter provided. Such laws shall provide standards for determining the district or districts in which judges shall be elected and the jurisdiction of such courts. Such courts shall consist of such number of judges as may be authorized by law or in accordance with section twenty-three of this article.

c. The legislature shall submit the question "Shall a district court system be adopted for the county?" to the voters of all such counties within two years from the operative date of this constitution. If approved by a majority of such voters voting upon the question in any such county, such system shall become effective as provided in subdivision d. At any time thereafter, the legislature may resubmit such question to the voters of any such county or that part of a county in which such system has not been adopted.

d. Before February first in the year following the adoption of such a system, the local legislative body may request approval by the legislature of either a system provided by general law or for the enactment of a special law governing the district court system in such county. Either by virtue of such special law, if so enacted, or under a general law theretofore enacted, the district court system in such county shall become effective the following July first.

e. The general or special laws adopted pursuant to subdivision b hereof shall provide that

(I) All town, village, city and other inferior courts are abolished upon the expiration of the terms of the incumbent judges unless the legislature provides for the continuance of such courts limited in their jurisdiction to violations of local laws, ordinances and regulations and to violations of vehicle and traffic laws within their respective territorial jurisdictions. By special law only, it may be provided that such continued courts shall have jurisdiction (a) to arraign persons charged with felonies preliminarily and (b) to arraign persons charged with and to hear and determine designated misdemeanors subject however to removal to the district court at the request of a defendant;

(2) In any county containing a city having a population of more than seventy-five thousand, such city shall constitute a separate district for the purpose of electing judges; that the number of judges elected from such city district shall be in the same proportion to the total num­ber of judges of the district court of such county as the population of such city bears to the population of such county; and that any fraction over one-half in such proportion shall entitle such city to an additional judge of such court;

(3) In cities having a population of over thirty-five thousand, all full time city court judges admitted to the bar, holding office at the time of adoption of the district court system shall continue to hold office, until the expiration of their terms, as judges of the district court.

Legislative History: 

In 1967, the New York State Constitutional Convention proposed a whole new Constitution that contained this provision and these changes to a vote of the people of the State of New York at the General Election asking "Shall the proposed new Constitution, adopted by the Constitutional Convention, and the Resolution submitting same, be approved?"  The Constitution as a whole was voted down by the people, which included these changes. 

Learn more on our page devoted to the 1967 Convention.  The Proceedings of the Convention are available from the New York State Library and you can download; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: initial; background-position: 100% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat; "> a PDF copy of the Constitution proposed by the 1967 Constitutional Convention.




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