‘It has been too many months already:’ Mayor implores courts to reopen as ‘fully as humanly possible’
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability on COVID-19. City Hall. Saturday, April 11, 2020. (Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Mayor Bill de Blasio implored New York state courts on Thursday to open next month as “fully as humanly possible” so that the city could “truly” have justice and safety.
“We cannot keep the city safe if we do not have a functioning court system,” de Blasio told reporters. “It has been too many months already. We owe it to our communities and we owe it to our police officers to restart the court system as vigorously as possible.”
The plea comes after de Blasio touted the signing of six police reform bills, including legislation banning the NYPD from using chokeholds, passed by the City Council last month. De Blasio refused to sign the package of sweeping reform bills after pushback from NYPD brass claiming the bills “weakened” cops during, according to the Daily News.
The state court administration spokesperson Lucien Chalfen called out de Blasio for “shifting the blame” for the city’s inability to keep law and order.
“Throughout this pandemic, through the unceasing hard work and dedication of Judges, non-judicial staff and Court Officers, the New York State Court system has continued to function,” Chalfen wrote in an email to amNewYork. “We have never closed: not for one day, not for one hour, not for one minute.”
“Clearly the Mayor continues to refuse to take any responsibility for his actions, shifting the blame,” he added.
In mid-March state courthouses in New York City closed for non-essential work due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the cities ease into the state’s reopening phases, courts are taking on more in-person work. Most courts outside of the city have already entered into Phase 4
of the state’s reopening timeline, according to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.