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Criminal Court arraignments, Family Court proceedings shift to video

March 23, 2020 David Brand
Brooklyn Supreme Court. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The state court system has pivoted to video, mandating that all parties in New York City criminal court arraignments and Family Court proceedings — including the judges — appear by teleconference to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The state already mandated that defendants appear for arraignments by video last week, but the new OCA directive establishes Skype conferencing for judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys starting March 25.

“Extraordinary times like these call for extraordinary measures,” OCA said in a statement Sunday announcing the shift to video. 

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said the court system remains open to provide “essential and emergency operations” 

“In order to help reduce the spread of the virus and to further protect judges, court staff, attorneys, litigants and the public, by mid-week essential functions of New York City Criminal Court and New York City Family Court will commence virtual operations,” DiFiore said.

Healthy defendants have been arraigned by video from Central Booking since March 17, while Queens and Brooklyn defendants who show signs of COVID-19 are arraigned by video from the Red Hook Community Court, one of two sites designated for criminal court proceedings for sick defendants. Manhattan and Bronx defendants are arraigned at a site in Manhattan.

DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks also announced that New York City Family Court proceedings will take place via video starting Thursday.

Child-protective intake cases involving removal applications, newly-filed juvenile delinquency intake cases involving remand applications, emergency family offense petitions and writ applications where there is a court order for custody or parenting time will all be conducted by video.

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