Reopen NYC: Mayor Bill de Blasio calls for restart to city court system

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio began his daily briefing Monday by addressing the city's uptick in violence by calling for a restart to the court system.

"We also have to restart all the pieces of the criminal justice system, to make sure that if God forbid, someone has committed an act of violence and means to do harm to their community members that we can do something about it," the mayor said. "So the bottom line is our criminal justice system needs to get back to full strength, our courts not only need to reopen, they need to reopen fully as quickly as possible."

Mayor de Blasio noted that the coronavirus created a big disruption and that a lot of NYPD officers and others were sick, so the city and courts had to take precautions.

"I want to make sure everyone hears that we are all in this together, and everyone's been through a tremendous amount of disruption," he said.

The mayor said that there's a huge backlog when it comes to cases involving violent crime and only 50% of firearms charges have even gotten to the point of indictment.

"And obviously, we need to go from indictment through the trial process and determining the fair resolution and those who need to feel consequences have to experience those consequences in a speedier fashion. That's not happening right now," de Blasio said.

In order to expedite the restart of the court system, the mayor wrote a letter to the chief judge and all five district attorneys.

"So I want to call together all of the players, I've sent this letter, this morning to the chief judge and the five district attorneys, saying let's all work together let's get this right, I want to convene everyone to figure out what can the city of New York do to help each of you and all of your colleagues to get this right, because, again, just a little beginning of the court system won't get it done. We need to find a way to get back to full strength, and there are obvious issues of health and safety. We want to help, we have a lot of spaces we can make available personnel to help address the health and safety issues, but I'm going to work with all of my colleagues."

The mayor is sending the letter on the same day as the funeral for 1-year-old Davell Gardner, Jr.

"When you think about that pain, it's incumbent upon all of us to re-glue the criminal justice system get it going at full strength, and make sure there are consequences for those who would harm their fellow New Yorker."

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also commented when asked about if the courts are really as big of a problem when it comes to the increase in shootings and other violence in the city.

"I would turn the question around to ask how many people have had a court case disposed of which resulted in them being sentenced to state prison or Rikers Island, and you're going to see very low numbers," Shea said. "I mean the court system, the violence question, it is indisputable. We have about 2,000, uh, 2,100 gun cases just in the last two years that are still open, half of them indicted, and almost all of them are out walking next to you and me on the streets. It is not disputable."

Grand Jury cases are set to resume on August 10th in New York City.

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