In-person court proceedings are dangerous to all involved, especially people of color

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Queens Daily Eagle

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As the City mourns the death of 30,000 residents, New York’s Office of Court Administration inexplicably announced they were resuming in-person operations in July. At least four of those deaths are directly linked to the court's egregious decision to remain open in March. Two judges, a court officer, and our colleague, an 1199/SEIU paralegal, lost their lives from COVID-19, dozens of staff were infected, and countless community members were exposed. Once again, despite the evidence that COVID-19 continues to threaten our existence and despite the success of virtual courts, OCA is demanding in-person appearances—thereby creating COVID Courts.

OCA's actions in March were irresponsible, and today they are again acting with a callous disregard for human life. We, attorneys and support staff from The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice, will not participate in this dangerous and unnecessary plan that targets Black and Brown New Yorkers.