Brooklyn Boro

Court is in session — Brooklyn and NYC courts reopen for first time since March

BBA president says court did a great job remotely, but he's happy to be back in person

June 10, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Welcome back, judges and court employees of Brooklyn!

After being closed for approximately three months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooklyn and other New York City courts will finally reopen on Wednesday, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced this week.

Nearly every judge will be back on Wednesday along with approximately 20 percent of the court’s staff as the court will hear in-person emergency and essential cases. The rest of the court staff will continue to commute virtually as the courts embrace the “new normal.”

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“We will rigorously monitor safety protocols and day-to-day operations, carefully balancing the justice needs of those served by our New York City courts with the safety of all those who work in and visit courthouses in the five boroughs,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

The “new normal” means that all non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse. Any staff who interact with visitors, as well as all visitors, will be required to wear masks, as well.

The courthouse will also be carefully marked to ensure physical distancing, facilities will be regularly sanitized and acrylic barriers have been installed. Hand sanitizers and other safety features will be installed throughout the courts as needed.

“As we have been doing in courts outside New York City, which are now making a smooth transition to Phase Two of a return to limited in-person operations, we shall re-establish in-court operations in New York City with a constant focus on health and safety, adapting protocols and facilities as needed,” said the chief judge.

On Monday, administrative judges from the Kings County Supreme Court, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Hon. Matthew D’Emic, said that they were eager to get back to work. On Tuesday, local bar leaders joined the two in saying that they are excited for the next step in the return to normalcy.

“I am so excited that we are taking this step to get back to work with the reopening of the courts in a safe and orderly manner,” said Carrie Anne Cavallo, a past president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association. “I am hopeful that this is just the first step to us all being back in the courthouses together to conduct business safely.”

Frank Carone, the president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, who suffered from the coronavirus early on in the pandemic, said that he is feeling better and is glad to see the court reopen.

“Although the court and its personnel managed as best as they could ever be expected through the crisis, it is great that litigants can finally have all of their issues fully adjudicated,” he said.

New York City has had more than 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 17,000 related deaths. Four judges, including two retired judges, died of COVID-19 — Hon. Noach Dear, Hon. Johnny Lee Baynes, and retired justices Hon. Melvin Barasch and Hon. Gerard Rosenberg.

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