Courts only open for essential proceedings

Kumi Tucker
Updated: March 31, 2020 07:14 PM
Created: March 31, 2020 05:55 PM

ALBANY - There are no trials going on at Albany County Court these days. New York state has pushed pause on everything but essential proceedings.

There's a sign on the front door courthouse, telling people that most court action is postponed.


The courts are not shut down, but the flow through these doors has become a trickle. 

All trials not already underway are on hold, but prosecutors are still working, police are making arrests, and there's a new set up at the jail. 
"Where not only arraignments can be done there, but all booking can be done there," said Albany County District Attorney David Soares.  "So it's really convenient for law enforcement to bring people to the jail to get the screening ahead of time so we're not crowding people into local city jail or even the county jail."

Soares says they've reviewed about 28 of the applications for inmates to be released. 
"And we've consented to the release on a number of individuals in the Albany County Correctional Facility for the specific purposes of making sure that we're not exposing people who are in jail now for non-violent offenses to the coronavirus," he said. 

As NewsChannel 13 has reported, police are seeing an uptick in domestic violence calls these days, and Soares wants victims to know that his office will continue to pursue those cases.  

"We want victims of crime, victims of domestic violence to know that you can still contact your local law enforcement, that these are the cases that we consider essential cases," said Soares.  "You can still contact law enforcement, and they will respond to your call."

These are unprecedented times and a lot of hands went into figuring out a way to keep the system going. 
"From public defenders to the district attorneys to the police to the courts, we've all come together engaging one another, to figure out how we can continue to protect someone's due process rights but making that process a healthy process."

The chief justice has put out a list of what is considered essential as they push pause through at least April 19. That order could be extended.

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