The New York City legal system is critically backlogged with a pileup of cases stemming from both the COVID-19 shutdown and the thousands of arrests and detentions related to recent protests against police brutality.
Yet for a week during the protests, the NYPD directed its officers not to appear in court to testify, further delaying criminal hearings for people held pretrial and awaiting possible release from jail, according to documents obtained by The Appeal and interviews with public defenders.
In a memo dated June 2—addressed to “all commands” and signed on the “authority of the police commissioner”—the NYPD declared that “all court appearances” were “cancelled” for the rest of that week.
“Effective immediately, due to ongoing national and local social unrest and the need to maintain public safety and order there will be no court appearances in any patrol borough,” the memo reads. The NYPD’s eight patrol boroughs encompass all precincts across the city.