New York City tenant attorneys say the city's civil and housing courts are not ready to safely reopen, as court staff return to work across the city Wednesday morning. Advertisement More precisely, don’t reopen housing courts to a flood of new nonpayment eviction cases. Arthur J. Doran, III Hon. The courts must ensure they are not putting tenants’ health at risk. Jared Trujillo, the president of the ALAA, told the New York Daily News last month that three dozen of his members had contracted COVID-19. Tenants who don’t have access to video chat technology are able to come to the court buildings to use Skype, but otherwise have few options unless a lawyer can arrange video conferencing for them. Public defenders, meanwhile, are quick to emphasize that their clients, who are among New York City’s most vulnerable, are the most likely to suffer if there were another coronavirus outbreak in the city courthouses. The Housing Courts in NYC are open. We hear family matters, personal injury claims, commercial disputes, trust and estates issues, criminal cases, and landlord-tenant cases. A 2015 report funded by the Department of Justice also determined that some video-conferencing software, by eliminating certain vocal frequencies, “removes critical emotional cues that can be used by judicial officers to determine a defendant’s remorse and character.”. The official home page of the New York State Unified Court System. New York City Housing Court. La Mort pointed out that something as simple as testifying during a trial is complicated if it’s done over the phone or video. Since then, I have covered the housing industry from a variety of perspectives – from luxury residences to home buying and selling tips to market dynamics. “While it exists, it does not work,” she said. On July 28, a federal judge denied a request from the public defender organizations to halt in-person, non-emergency court proceedings. by Brooklyn Reader. Yet, his new executive order covers only those who qualify for unemployment benefits or can otherwise demonstrate they have suffered an adverse coronavirus impact. Cuomo's stay-at-home order caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of New York City jobs, leaving tenants without means to pay rent and fearing eviction when Housing Court reopens. As a result, she spent two years in a shelter. Staten Island Housing Court is set to reopen for regular trials on Aug. 10. Private tenant attorneys have also sided with the public defenders in opposing in-person trials. The legal services groups, which include the Legal Aid Society, the Bronx Defenders and the Brooklyn Defender Services, argued in a statement that the state Office of Court Administration’s plan to reopen the courts “forces our clients to choose between their health and safety and their freedom, and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act in doing so. The right to counsel is especially important to Mitchell, who said she would not have been evicted from her apartment in Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood had she received legal aid. Despite the risks, the court system has marched on, particularly on the criminal side. NYC Renters Protest Housing Court Reopening Amid Coronavirus - New York City, NY - "Housing is healthcare," organizers said . Image: CoStar Group. NYC Renters Protest Housing Court Reopening Amid Coronavirus. “How do you know someone doesn’t have notes that they’re reading off of, that someone isn’t feeding them answers?” he asked. If you are interested in emergency notices for NY Federal Courts, please use the following links: U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit U.S. District Courts of NY: Northern | Eastern | Southern | Western. It was a big step when the court system announced that it would begin reopening courts in counties that meet the Governor’s safety metrics, but many lawyers and judges predicted that Brooklyn, which has some of the most crowded and high-volume courts in the country, would still be months and not weeks away from reopening. We have done walk-throughs of all court facilities with our epidemiologist, and while the responsibility for the maintenance of the buildings rests with the City, they have installed MERV-14 air filters that are state of the art.”. The list below sets out the courts that HMCTS expects to open. There is no grand jury action. NY housing courts reopen | Waccabuc Real Estate “I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff, and I’m just waiting for a push to send me over.” Daniella Vega has called every tenant hotline she could find, but she still doesn’t know if she’s on the cusp of being evicted. Housing Court Hotline. “If your stated goal is to clear up some of these cases, and the court is scheduling these conferences but we haven’t gotten through all of them yet … To force people back into court for trials right now, I don’t think it’s safe. Within the City of New York, Family Court consists of such number of judges as may be provided by law. Since entering Phase 3, our Judges and professional staff in the New York City Criminal Court and Criminal Term of Supreme Court have presided over approximately 450 in-court proceedings, in which all . Alternatively, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, who oversees the entire state court system, could issue a new rule allowing eviction cases to proceed, or continue to push back the deadline for restarting cases. June 10, 2020. As housing court begins to reopen, confusion reigns over whether certain evictions can proceed. EMERGENCY NOTICE 4/2/2020: Please be advised that effective April 6, 2020, because of COVID-19 density restrictions and until further notice, all court proceedings will be conducted by videoconference. “And when we’re evaluating these questions of risk, we have to ask who are the most vulnerable people in these cases. “There have been instances outside of New York where people have been evicted because they ran out of minutes on their phone, or they had a tech issue,” said Justin La Mort, a housing attorney at nonprofit Mobilization for Justice. However, nonprofit tenant attorneys feel that it may not be possible to host a housing court trial fairly over video chat. Evictions and related legal proceedings are on pause through Aug. 5, according to guidance issued by the state court system on July 8. Lawyers and homeowners in foreclosure better be getting ready for battle! My work has appeared in the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Mansion Global and Robb Report, among other publications. Thus ending the state’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium. Tweet “Tenant advocates also have many outstanding questions. When the current eviction case moratorium expires, Gov. “Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, it has been disheartening to witness the lack of serious interest or widespread participation among the bar in self-initiated out-of-court negotiation or even court-initiated virtual case conferencing,” the judge wrote. It’s not fair to owners who aren’t getting rent, it’s not fair to criminals who are being held in custody, and it’s not fair to tenants who have claims against their landlords.”, He added, “Letting me file a holdover case for a tenant whose lease has expired and who has not paid rent but not telling me when I can get to court and when the judge will hear my case is [an] open [court] in theory but not in practice. Yonkers, NY 10701. On 25 June the housing courts will reopen for business. Although the suit is primarily concerned with criminal court, it would also affect cases in the civil and housing courts. New York Housing Courts Reopen to Confusion and Protests. I discovered my interest, which has now grown into a passion, for real estate during my first editorial job after college. Housing courts are back in business, but there's a catch: Eviction proceedings won't start for two weeks. In late 2017, New York City established the right to counsel – or a free access to an attorney – for some low-income renters. La Mort noted that attorneys “have been lobbying” the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the city Department of Health “to say whether the court buildings are safe. “Some people aren’t back at work. However, at least 15 percent of renters remain more than one month behind on rent. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to reopen the court system as murder rates and shooting incidents soar, but court officials disagree with this move. Their cases have not been indicted. Reach out with story ideas and tips at dima93vitanova@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @DimaVitanova. As many as a quarter of renters in New York City have not paid rent during the pandemic, according to data from the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a landlord group. Albeit, on a limited scale. Somehow, OCA still expects us to trust that they will safely reopen housing court, despite lacking any meaningful input from health experts, tenants, or tenant advocates.” “The tenant bar is effectively saying we don’t want to go to court until such time that there is 100 percent certainty that there won’t be a risk of getting coronavirus. HUD. But it appears for now that the extent and timing of the reopening will differ around the State. Andrew Cuomo could extend it. In July, the share of renters who couldn’t pay declined to 17 percent, CHIP’s latest survey found. Granted, the NYC Housing Court technically never closed, as it has been open for virtual conferences during the pandemic. HMCTS states that “each building that reopens has been individually assessed and will strictly follow public health guidance to ensure the protection and safety of all court users." Housing Courts can start accepting new eviction filings Monday as fears mount over mass evictions after Massachusetts’ moratorium expired Saturday. ... NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development builds affordable housing and administers Section 8 vouchers. Over the past week, advocates and judges have been preparing for the reopening of New York City’s Housing Court. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter . “Resumption of eviction proceedings compels parties to make the irreconcilable and, arguably, immoral choice between preserving either their health and safety or their due process rights and homes,” a group of 20 private practice tenant lawyers wrote in a letter last month. Thomas Quinones Hon. Public defenders are predicting a flood of new eviction cases once the state signals that eviction proceedings can resume. It wasn’t our fault, so we shouldn’t be evicted because we were displaced from our jobs.”. A New Jersey appeals court has denied a fourth attempt to retry the case in the murder of Howard Lewis, the late heir to the Sealy Mattress Co. in Paterson, despite pleas … We hear family matters, personal injury claims, commercial disputes, trust and estates issues, criminal cases, and landlord-tenant cases. Right to Counsel NYC claims that 84% of tenants who had an attorney won their eviction cases and, thus, remained in their residences. "Every housing court except for Manhattan is inadequate," said Mitch Posilkin, general counsel for the association. The two unions represent 2,000 civil and criminal lawyers at Legal Aid, Mobilization for Justice, Legal Services NYC, Bronx Defenders and several other nonprofit legal organizations. We hear more than three million cases a year involving almost every type of endeavor. Sidelined tennis players are calling “fault” on the city Parks Department, whose courts will remain padlocked through July 6 even as it allows privately managed courts on its property to reopen. Brooklyn Housing Court on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn is too cramped to hold trials safely during the pandemic. According to Daily News, there has been a 220% increase in the number of shootings compared to the same time last year. While the Safe Tenant Harbor Act prevents people from getting kicked to the curb, it does not encourage people to not pay rent. The Housing Courts in NYC are open. New York Supreme Court: Pending the resumption of jury trials in Supreme Court, New York County, cases that have been conferenced in the J-Med Part … I have gone to the courts in Bronx and in Manhattan. Reopening New York City’s housing courts is a thorny issue. “We find ourselves …, Jared Trujillo, the president of the ALAA, told the, SoCal Industry Roundup: New Faces for the New Year. Also, landlords can file new cases. Now, as New York City moves through Phase 1 of reopening, we cannot lose sight of these deep-seated inequities as the Office of Court Administration (OCA) plans to reopen the housing courts. Mitchell said, “No one should have to suffer from being evicted because of something we didn’t know. “We’ve been working this whole time, so it doesn’t seem necessary to leverage people’s health and safety while we’re still very much in the middle of the health crisis,” said Claire Gavin, a civil vice president for the Legal Aid chapter of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys. 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