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Legal Aid urges Cuomo, Legislature to act after judge’s eviction warning

August 27, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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While testifying in front of the New York State Legislature on Friday, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks warned lawmakers that the courts may have no choice but to return holding eviction proceedings by Oct. 1 as the Office of Court Administration feels that it doesn’t have the authority to extend such a moratorium indefinitely.

Marks added that if the State Senate believes that the moratorium should exist beyond that date, that they, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have to be the ones to get it done.

“Oct. 1, for us, might be a hard deadline,” Justice Marks said. He added, “We are the judiciary, not the policy-making branch of the government. We urge you to focus on this problem and not rely on us to do that.”

Now, the Legal Aid Society is calling on Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature to take Marks’ warning seriously.

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“Without action, thousands of families from across the state will face inevitable eviction come October, losing their homes just in time for the expected second wave of COVID-19,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society.

“Aside from the host of moral reasons demanding action, from a policy perspective, allowing evictions to proceed will undoubtedly perpetuate the spread of COVID-19, as families will flood crowded homeless shelters,” Goldiner continued. “This will erode the sacrifices that have been made in New York to contain the virus. We call on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to act at once.”

Specifically, Legal Aid wants to see the eviction moratorium extended indefinitely throughout the pandemic. Cuomo has instead chosen to take the eviction moratorium month by month. He has pledged to extend it every month throughout the pandemic, but this generally causes confusion and anxiety amongst members of the legal community who represent both tenants and landlords due to the uncertainty.

Gov. Cuomo’s executive order freezing eviction proceedings has been extended through October 2020. Surrounding states have imposed moratoriums that have gone further. New Jersey has suspended evictions until 60 days after its state of emergency is ended, Vermont has suspended its evictions until 30 days after its state of emergency ends, and Seattle’s moratorium lasts through the end of 2020 or through the end of the pandemic, whichever is longer.

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