6 SEPTEMBER 2, 2021 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Mayor, New York state courts trade barbs over slow criminal case processing
BY ROBERT POZARYCKI
Mayor Bill de Blasio appealed to the
court of public opinion on Monday,
Aug. 30, to raise public objections over
what he deemed to be a slow-moving
criminal justice system where courts
aren’t moving fast enough to process
The mayor said the city’s courts were
out of order when it comes to moving
along non-gun violence cases through,
chiding them for delivering only 18
trial verdicts in the fi rst six months of
2021; by comparison, more than 400
were tried in the fi rst half of 2019. The
lack of action on these cases, de Blasio
said, allows suspects to evade justice
on technicalities and walk the streets
to commit more crimes.
In response, a spokesperson for the
New York State Unifi ed Court System
suggested de Blasio didn’t know what
he was talking about — and pointed
the fi nger of blame at prosecutors and
defense attorneys for not being swift ly
Courts across New York state curtailed
in-person activity at the height
of the COVID-19 pandemic in March
and April 2020, but in recent months
have lift ed restrictions to allow further
processing of civil and criminal cases.
De Blasio has appealed repeatedly for
New York City courts to lift almost all
of its restrictions and return to a prepandemic
level of activity in order to
expeditiously handle thousands of
pending criminal cases.
Though the courts acquiesced in expediting
gun cases, de Blasio claimed on
Monday, the local courts were not keeping
up with the large number of arrests
for non-gun violence off enses. He said
the NYPD has informed him this, more
than anything, was continuing to drive
crime across the fi ve boroughs.
“To fi ght violence, to fi ght crime, you
need to address all crimes,” the mayor
said at his Aug. 30 briefi ng. “You can’t
just focus on the gun off enses. … If the
court system isn’t moving, there are no
consequences. It stops us from ensuring
there is every tool available to fi ght
De Blasio said his administration has
repeatedly been in contact with the
Unifi ed Court System about increasing
case processing in the city’s courts,
which are under state control. He said
he was perplexed as to why the courts
haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels
when city functions — including the
NYPD, the FDNY and the public school
system — have all returned to next-tonormal
The mayor went as far as to suggest
that criminals are emboldened by the
situation, and that those who operate
the court system care little about kicking
things back into high gear.
“If folks who commit crimes think
they’re not going to see a courtroom
for a long, long time, unfortunately,
it encourages them to commit more
crimes,” de Blasio said. “But if you
literally have so much disrespect for
your own criminal justice system that
you don’t think it matters if it doesn’t
function, then maybe you shouldn’t be
Lucian Chalfen, a spokesperson
for the Unifi ed Court System, issued
a scathing rebuttal moments aft er de
Blasio’s remarks, accusing the mayor
of “gaslighting” the public and failing
to comprehend the system’s operations.
“Yet again, the mayor demonstrates
his glaring lack of understanding of the
criminal justice process in this state.
His gaslighting rhetoric regarding
court operations in an attempt to shift
the public safety discussion continues,”
The spokesperson stated that the
courts have been back at full strength
since May, but that the reduced number
of trials were the result of attorneys not
being quickly prepared to handle them.
“Trials are being held, but for cases to
be tried, you need the prosecution and
defense to have their cases prepared,
which isn’t occurring in a number of
counties,” Chalfen added.
File photo by Andrew Kelly/REUTERS
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in recognizing and thanking
the efforts of our workforce
in this great city.
Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
New York State Senator
Member of the Senate Civil Service & Pension Committees
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