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 is working and will continue to be in court to handle intake, arraignments, and emergenciesWe 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: 

  • Criminal court is closed except for arraignments and emergencies. 
  • If you are a client, do not go to court unless instructed to by your attorney. Family members of incarcerated clients should not come to court unless instructed by attorneys. 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. 
  • 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: 

  • Family court is closed for all ACS, custody, and visitation cases except for emergencies
  • If you are a client, do not go to Family Court without first contacting your attorney or social worker. Your court case will likely be adjourned for 90 days. Please call your attorney 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 immigration cases: 

  • BDS Immigration Phone Number: 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 April 14, 2020, all reporting requirements of non-detained immigrants have been suspended, and all appointments to report in person to 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. Telephonic reporting has not been suspended.    
  • Some deportation (removal) case in Immigration Court in New York City are still happening despite concerns about COVID-19, and some are being cancelled and rescheduled by the Court.  
  • Hearings for detained individuals are still occurring at the New York Varick Street Immigration Court.  
  • All hearings for people that are not detained are cancelled, through April 10, 2020. You or your attorney will be mailed a hearing notice of a new court date. The Immigration Court is posting updates on its Facebook page (@doj.eoir), Twitter (@DOJ_EOIR), and its website. You can check the status of your individual case using your Alien Number by calling 1-800-898-7180 or visiting this website: https://portal.eoir.justice.gov/InfoSystem/Form?Language=EN 
  • If you have an interview with USCIS, it will not occur. As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).  
  • USCIS offices will reopen on May 4, 2020 unless the public closures are extended further. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center. Changes are happening very rapidly; the best source of information is USCIS itself: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 

For housing or civil cases: 

  • Housing court is closed except for emergencies.  
  • There will be limited access to court for emergency matters such as illegal lockouts or extremely dire housing conditions. If you have questions or believe this applies to you please contact us. 
  • All evictions in New York City have been suspended indefinitely. 
  • If you are a client with an upcoming court date, do not go to court unless instructed by your attorney. All court dates are being rescheduled 
  • Your attorney will call you with your new court dateYou will also receive a new date in the mail or can look it up here: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivilLocal/LCMain. 
  • If you are an existing client with questions about your caseplease 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. 

For Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court cases:  

  • IDV court is closed. No criminal or family matters are proceeding.  
  • If you are a client, do not go to court. All cases are being automatically adjourned to a new court date.  
  • Your attorney will call you with the 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. 

For questions about public benefits: 

  • HRA offices remain open for new cash assistance or rental arrears applications. They are not taking any negative case actions for missed appointments or other program requirements. SNAP applications, recertification for current recipients, and some other actions can be completed here: https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/ 
  • 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.