177 Livingston Street 7th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 254-0700 info@bds.org

COVID-19 INFORMATION

Due to the ongoing public health emergency related to COVID-19, Brooklyn Defender Services’ physical offices are closed to visitors until further notice.

However, our staff continues working diligently on your cases and continues handling intake, arraignments, and emergencies. We are receiving calls and emails. If you are unable to reach our staff, please leave a message and we will respond as soon as we can. 

To access a directory of staff phone numbers, please click here.

To find a guide to available resource and services, please see our COVID-19 Resource Guide.

We understand that these are difficult times. We understand that life circumstances are being dramatically altered due to COVID-19.  We are available to help you. See below to learn more about how this affects your case and how to get in contact with our staff. 

 

For all criminal cases, including criminal cases sent to Family Court:

  • The criminal courts are closed except for arraignments, Youth Part 1 (YP1), and a limited number of urgent applications, all of which are being conducted by video. Although arraignments at 120 Schermerhorn St. are taking place by video, they are open to the public.  Members of the public can go to the arraignment courtroom on the first floor of 120 Schermerhorn St. and watch the video arraignment.  Arraignments of Adolescent Offenders in Youth Part 1 (YP1) at 320 Jay St. are also taking place by video.  Family and other members of the public may go to Youth Part 1 (YP1) and watch the video arraignment.
  • If you are a client or a family member of a client, do not go to court unless instructed to by an attorney. Most cases will be automatically adjourned to a new court date without clients appearing.
  • Your attorney will call you or your family with your new court date.
  • For questions about your case, if you already have your attorney’s phone number, please feel free to reach out to them directly. If not, or for additional information, please call 718-254-0700 or email bds@bds.org
  • Note: If you know or have a loved one incarcerated who is feeling ill or having difficulty accessing medical care, please contact Jail Services at 646-787-3325 (English) or 646-971-2710 (Spanish). The person must be represented by BDS.

 

For Family Court ACS cases:

  • Please do not travel to the Family Court as the Family Court is operating digitally and is hearing some cases remotely. If you are a client, please contact your attorney or social worker for your next court date and to discuss any issues you have with your family court case.
  • If you cannot reach your attorney or social worker or you have an emergency concerning removal of children, please call 347-592-2500. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible.
  • If you are not a current BDS client but you are being investigated by ACS, please call 646-974-9343 for immediate assistance. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible.

 

For Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court cases:

  • IDV court is physically closed. Cases will be automatically adjourned to a new court date without clients appearing.
  • IDV court is able to hear limited emergency applications.
  • If you have an order that is not being followed or need further legal relief, please contact your IDV attorney (A staff directory is listed at the top of this page)
  • Your attorney will call you or your family with your new court date.

 

For immigration cases:

  • To reach our immigration practice, please call: 718-564-6290
  • For questions regarding DETAINED individuals ONLY: 347-768-3040
  • ICE continues enforcement operations, including arrests at homes, places of business, and near courthouses. Know Your Rights by watching our video series: www.wehaverights.us
  • Until the close of business on July 1, 2020, all in-person reporting requirements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been suspended, and all appointments to report in person to ICE/ERO New York City, or any ICE sub-office (Central Islip and Newburgh) as well as to report in person to ICE contractors (BI) on ATD have been cancelled and will be rescheduled, or you will be contacted telephonically. Previously scheduled telephonic reporting has not been suspended.
  • Hearings for detained individuals are still occurring at the New York Varick Street Immigration Court; most are being conducted by video teleconference.
  • EOIR: As previously announced, certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, July 24, 2020.
  • USCIS is reopening the local offices to the public for ceremonies on June 15, 2020 and will gradually schedule inter-views and appointments later in the month. (Additional information about details has not been provided). Applicants who are scheduled to come to the office will receive a notice and instructions in the mail. Individuals should check the USCIS website and read notices carefully regarding COVID-19 related precautions and requirements for in person appointments.

 

For housing or civil cases:

  • Housing Court, NYCHA, and Evictions:
    • As of June 20, Landlords are permitted to begin and file new eviction cases in Housing Court.
      • Landlords are only permitted to file new eviction cases by mail and tenants who are served with papers for an eviction case do not need to visit the courthouse to respond.   
      • All new eviction petitions are required to include a notice to tenants with information about how a tenant can contact a lawyer and how to respond to the petition by phone.
      • At this time, the court will not be defaulting tenants who fail to respond to an eviction petition.
    • However there will be no court dates until after July 6, whether a tenant responds or not. The court date may be a virtual appearance.
      • Lawyers for landlords who file a new eviction case must affirm to the court when they file that the eviction is not prohibited by:
        • The federal CARES Act moratorium on evictions prohibiting evictions of tenants in public housing, those with Section 8 rental vouchers, or those who live in buildings with federally backed mortgages or funding until at least August 25, 2020
        • The Governor’s Executive Order which suspends evictions for nonpayment of rent against tenants eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits or who have been financially impacted by COVID through August 20, 2020;
        • and all applicable court administrative orders.
    • Until further notice, the court is not scheduling conferences or hearings in pending eviction cases in housing court if the tenant does not have a lawyer
    • Housing Court remains open for applications addressing post-eviction relief, illegal lockouts, emergency apartment repairs.
    • Tenants who choose to do so may enter into written agreements with their landlords to apply their security deposits to rent and then pay back (replenish) the security deposit over a 12-month period that starts 90 days after the security deposit is applied to rent.
    • NYCHA and other administrative hearings are also postponed, with no return date scheduled yet.
    • If you are an existing client with questions about your case, please reach out to your attorney directly.
    • If you are a Brooklyn Defender Services client with a civil legal issue not yet working with our team, or don’t remember who you are working with, please reach out to our intake coordinator at 332-213-4193.

     

     

    ALL evictions in New York, residential and commercial, continue to be suspended until further notice, and at least until July 7.

    • Until August 21, marshals cannot evict tenants who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, for non-payment of rent.

 

For questions about public benefits:

  • All negative case actions have been canceled. Appointments have been rescheduled. Recertifications have been extended automatically.
  • If you need to apply for public assistance or SNAP you can do so online or via the HRA Access app: https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/.
  • Most HRA offices are closed! If you must visit in person call 311 for available locations.
  • Food assistance is available at a food pantry near you.  Call 311 for locations.
  • If you have questions, or would like to speak to the civil practice, please ask your attorney to make a referral or contact us at 332-213-4193.

 

For questions about education and employment

 

Community office:

  • Our community office is currently closed but we are working remotely and available to help.
  • If you have issues or questions about ACS, education, housing, education, employment, benefits, criminal matters or general legal issues, please call 646-971-2722 or email us at communityoffice@bds.org.

 

For all media and press inquiries please email Daniel Ball at dball@bds.org.