De Blasio points finger at court system over rise in gun violence

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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed a finger at the court system on Tuesday over the spike in gun violence.

Two teens were gunned down while playing basketball and a 1-year-old child was recently killed. There were 250 shooting incidents in the city in the 28-day period ending July 19.

“It’s a perfect storm where we’ve seen so much dislocation in this city, so much pain, so much frustration, and in the middle of all that we don’t even have the normal things that we depend on to make sure we can stop violence like a functioning court system,” de Blasio said.

He also listed the court system as a problem on Monday and on Friday of last week, but court officials said they never really close and they are moving cases everyday.

“It is wrong to say that the District Attorneys are not prosecuting or that the court system is not functioning,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “It is certainly wrong to suggest that the recent uptick in shootings has been caused by the changes in court”

Trials have been on hold, but courts conducted arraignments virtually starting in the middle of March when courts were closed over health concerns.

In a July 20 message, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that more than 19,000 people had been arraigned since March in New York City criminal courts. Grand Jury operations will resume in the city on Aug. 10.

“The public rightly expects, and must have confidence, that our courts are being faithful to our mission: doing justice, upholding the rule of law and responsibly standing against the disruption of the pandemic,” she wrote in the message to court workers.

There were 650 preliminary hearings for all incarcerated defendants over the last month, New York Courts spokesman Lucian Chalfen said. They also calendared more than 800 in person appearances aimed at adjudicating the pending cases de Blasio “constantly references.”

“By the Mayor repeating the same factually incorrect narrative doesn’t make it magically come true,” Chalfen said in an emailed statement. “Today, a felony jury trial resumed in Bronx Supreme Court. The Mayor used the word innovative, well, creating a virtual court system that never existed before and has done 21,000 arraignments since mid-March should qualify as innovative.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while officers are being sent to problem neighborhoods and the city is working to coordinate with community leaders, but that “if everything was functioning normally, some of the people committing the violence would not be out on the street and we need the court system up and running 100 percent as quickly as possible.”

“The City of New York will do anything and everything to help the office of court administration do that,” he said. “If they need buildings, if they need personnel, whatever they need we’ll help them do it, but this is the missing link to really getting some of these folks who are doing the most violence off the streets.”

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