Excerpts from the New York State Bar Association
Special Committee on Administrative Adjudication
(Click here for Full Report)
Each year, the rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are adjudicated in state agency administrative proceedings. Last year, for example, more than half a million hearings were held by just two of the state’s agencies — the Traffic Violations Bureau of the Department of Motor Vehicles, which imposes fines and effectively suspends drivers’ licenses, and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which resolves claims for government benefits. Other agencies have a smaller volume of hearings, but the matters coming before them involve significant issues relating to the environment, medical facilities, professional conduct and the like.
The Committee’s findings and recommendations for each of the five agencies are provided in the following segments of this Report.
THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES
Restroom facilities for the public are extremely scarce, exacerbating the already unpleasant experience of an hours-long wait. This problem was noted in the 1988 Report and has not been solved. One office which Committee members visited maintained for public use only one, unisex restroom facility, accommodating one person at a time. We were startled to be told that this was deliberate: according to TVB staff, the public restrooms had been used as shelters and waystations by homeless people, and it was decided to limit the availability of restrooms for that reason. It seems to us that the solution is worse than the problem.
IV. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The Committee recommends, in sum, that the following actions be taken in order to improve the workings of motor vehicle infraction adjudication:
Increase and upgrade restroom facilities in TVB offices.[ DELETED TEXT ]
The 1988 Report found that the physical conditions at hearing locations left much to be desired.
Committee members also observed that there are no restroom facilities in the Buffalo hearing facility.[ DELETED TEXT ]
To reiterate, the Committee makes the following recommendations:[ DELETED TEXT ]
Fair hearing facilities should be clean, well lit, well-ventilated, handicap- accessible and with restrooms available.[ DELETED TEXT ]