PUBLIC DEFENDERS AGAINST COVID COURTS

For Immediate PRESS RELEASE

PRESS CONFERENCE AND PROGRAM
LOCATION: THE BRONX HALL OF JUSTICE (“HOJ”) 265 East 161st Street Bronx, New York 10451
DATE: AUGUST 18, 2020
TIME: 10:00 A.M.

Contact: Neville O. Mitchell, Esq., Tel. No.: (347) 224-9890; Email: Attorneymitch@gmail.com

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck public defenders continued to work. Following the Governor’s
orders, the Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) held virtual arraignments and closed the courthouses,
except for emergency matters. We zealously represented New Yorkers throughout the pandemic. On August 10, 2020 OCA began in person appearances.

The criminal justice system’s edifices, including the courthouses, are a petri dish for growing and
spreading viruses. Clients and their families travel to courts to sit in rooms- many with little or no ventilation – for hours. They commute mostly by public transportation probably spreading the virus.

In person appearances directly threaten the safety of the public. It likely will increase the spreading of
COVID-19. Black and Brown bodies – the ones in the court system- have borne the brunt of this pandemic in illness and death. In person appearances may ensure that it continues. We, the Public Defenders against Covid  Courts call on OCA to immediately cease in-person court appearances and close COVID COURTS in New York City until such time as they comply with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Governor Cuomo’s  executive order, and until experts have determined that HOJ is safe for entry.

PROGRAM 8/18/2020 – 10:00 A.M.

1.Invocation – Pastor and/ or Muslim Minister
2. Lift Every Voice and Sing
3. Musical Selections.
4. Message to COVID Courts – Antonia Codling
5. African Dance
6. African Drums – Babacar
7. Message to Public Officials – Vanity Muniz
8. Message from Mothers of the Movement (MOM) – Valerie Bell and Gwen Carr
9. Musical Selections
10. Keynote – Neville Mitchell
11. Closing remarks.
12. Musical selections

We demand the following:
1. Continue virtual appearances UNTIL
2. Installation of proper ventilation
3. Offer free Covid-19 tests on site to all entering HOJ
4. Provide masks, gloves and hand sanitizers to all who enter HOJ
5. Require six feet of social distancing on elevators and through the building
6. Install plexiglass separations in the hand wash basin area of public bathroom

Dated: Bronx, New York, August 17, 2020

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