The city’s recovery is linked to its safety, and de Blasio says the court system is not doing its part.
It’s an unacceptable state of affairs. It's something that must be resolved quickly,” the mayor said Monday.
Once again, he is asking the criminal justice system to be fully operational and is offering help so courthouses can function in a safe manner.
In the first half of this year, the mayor said there were only 18 trial verdicts, compared to 405 in the first half of 2019.
“I'm a progressive and I believe in justice, I believe in fairness, I believe in non-discrimination, but I also believe in consequences,” de Blasio said. “If someone has committed a crime against a fellow New Yorker and they never see a consequence, or they think it's so far away that it will have no impact on their life, it gives them license.”
Crime statistics seem to be trending down recently after a dramatic spike during the pandemic, and the court system has been lately focusing on gun cases.
The Office of Court Administration doesn’t share the mayor’s assessment.
Its Director of Communications Lucian Chaifen said this in a statement: “Yet again, the mayor demonstrates his glaring lack of understanding of the criminal justice process in this state. His gaslighting rhetoric regarding court operations is an attempt to shift the public safety discussion continues.
“The court system has been back at full strength – with all judges and staff fully back in person in the courthouses since May. 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.”
But Lisa Ohta, president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, admits some cases have seen delays because of the pandemic.
She disagrees, however, with the connection the mayor is making between these cases and higher crime.
“It is the low-level offenses, the violations, the non-violent misdemeanors that have been delayed more than other things, as they should be, because these are not issues that are putting people at serious risk,” Ohta said.
Her organization is planning a Wednesday protest at City Hall to demand the city and the state fix conditions and ventilation in courthouses, so its members can work safely.
These buildings are operated by a city agency, even though the court system is a state entity.