By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
For the better part of this week, New Yorkers have been reeling from the aftermath of super-storm Sandy. Within the Brooklyn legal community, courts have been closed and cases have been delayed.
On Thursday, Nov. 1 the Civil, Housing and Small Claims courts in Brooklyn, as well as the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, had reopened. The courts operated on a regular schedule except that there were no Evening Small Claims Court and no Evening Housing Court.
In Manhattan, the New York City Civil Court, located in Lower Manhattan in an area severely affected by Sandy, remained closed. In addition, the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RCJC), an unconventional court geared to solve neighborhood problems through an array of sanctions and restitution projects, also remains closed.
Tina Luongo, attorney in charge for the Legal Aid Society-Criminal Practice, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “Red Hook Community Court is closed because of sustained water damage and lack of electricity. We are working as quickly as possible to provide services to the Red Hook community.”
The Legal Aid Society, which often conducts cases in the RCJC, has been uprooted from its main office at 199 Water St. in Manhattan due to water damage. This has not, however, halted them from providing needed legal services.
“We have been handling cases since Sunday night,” said Patricia Bath, director of communications for the Legal Aid Society. “We have been taking care of arraignments throughout the week and since most of the courts are now in full session, we are working out of our many satellite offices to provide full services to our clients,” she continued.
For persons how have a housing case scheduled in Red Hook, the court states, “Your case will be postponed. The court will mail you a new [court] date.”
The courts are not penalizing legal professionals and their clients who are unable to attend court dates this week. For those unable to come to court on Thursday, Nov. 1, or Friday, Nov. 2, the cases will be postponed and no defaults will be taken. In addition, evictions scheduled for this week will have also been postponed.