Public Defenders Call for and End to COVID-related Prosecutions in New York City

Public defender organizations from four New York City boroughs joined with the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG) NYC Chapter in a call to stop prosecutions for alleged violations of COVID-related executive orders, as well for offenses stemming from recent protests.

In a letter to each District Attorney in the city, the organizations demanded dismissal of all open cases resulting from social distancing enforcement, noting that many of these cases remain pending although NYC DAs have stated intentions not to prosecute. The groups also call on prosecutors to dismiss open cases against those who have protested racism and police brutality since a national movement was sparked in late May 2020. In regards to the protests as well, the NYPD has made arrests for offenses that DAs have stated they would decline to prosecute, including curfew violations, and thousands of cases are pending with appearance dates months away.

The letter from the Legal Aid Society, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Queens Defenders, New York County Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, and the NLG demands clarity on policies and urges dismissals where they have not occurred.