NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to reopen the court system as murder rates and shooting incidents soar, but court officials disagree with this move.
According to Daily News, there has been a 220% increase in the number of shootings compared to the same time last year. Gun violence throughout the city generally increases during the summertime as more people are spending time outdoors. However, with the pandemic taking over the summer, other issues are considered to be an underlying reason for the substantial increase in shootings.
Ashley Southall, with The New York Times, mentions that “poverty, unemployment, housing instability and hunger” are all contributing factors to the recent crime spike. de Blasio believes that one solution to the problem could be reopening the entire court system in NYC. The system closed down back in March, but the Criminal Court and Family Courts stayed open for emergencies.
“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,” said de Blasio to the Brooklyn Eagle.
The focus of reopening the court system is to have jury trials. It’s a constitutional right to have a trial by an impartial jury under the Sixth Amendment. However, court officials say that de Blasio is attempting “to shift the blame for his inability to manage the increase in New York’s street violence.”
A fear amongst the court and juror is that those who are called for jury duty will risk their health to show up to the mandatory hearing. Arraignments and preliminary hearings have continued even though jury proceedings stopped. Aug. 10 is when the system will bring back the jury, and even though de Blasio wants this to happen sooner and all at once, those that work in the court argue that his reasoning doesn’t have validity.
Mayor de Blasio believes that opening the courts to where cases have a jury will bring down the crime rapidly happening across the five boroughs. Attorney Arthur Aidala stated, “Even if we were having trials right now, they would be from incidents that would have happened over a year ago.”
Aidala and other members of the court system contend that de Blasio doesn’t have concrete evidence to support his claim that the reason shootings have gone up is because the court systems are closed. With Aug. 10 approaching in a couple of weeks, New Yorkers would be able to tell if the two issues are related or if the summertime crime inflation is a result of other problems.