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 Court and the Criminal Term of Supreme Court are hearing cases by video. The only cases that are being heard in person are cases that are on the In Person DAT calendar and cases on the DAT-W calendar. 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 have a court date, contact your attorney who will assist you in appearing in virtual court.
- For questions about your case, if you already have your attorney’s phone number, reach out to them directly. If not, or for additional information, please call 718-254-0700 or email firstname.lastname@example.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 cases by phone and video. If you are a BDS 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 BDS attorney or social worker, or have an emergency concerning the removal of children, please call 347-592-2500. If someone doesn’t answer, we will call you back as quickly as possible. ACS also has a hotline you can call to get information about where your children are located. The number is (646) 935-1411.
- 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.
- If you are not a current BDS client, and are not being investigated by ACS, but have questions about how to access Family Court, please follow this link for more information: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/family/index.shtml
FOR INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (IDV) COURT CASES:
- IDV court is open for virtual appearances with Microsoft Teams.
- If you have a court date you need to appear using Microsoft Teams.
- IDV court is also able to hear emergency applications on custody and family offense cases.
- 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 (Immigration court): Non-detained hearing at 26 Federal Plaza and 290 Broadway in New York scheduled at least through December 18, 2020 have be postponed. Some other immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings.
- 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:
There is no longer universal eviction moratorium in NYC. The rules for which cases can start moving through courts, who can be evicted, and how that will happen, change weekly. Speak to a housing attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
CDC Eviction Moratorium
- On September 4, 2020, the CDC issued an eviction moratorium that prevents landlords from evicting tenants who have been financially affected by COVID-19 until December 31, 2020.
- To benefit from the protections of the moratorium, tenants must first send their landlord a very detailed sworn statement.
- More information, including a sample of the required statement, can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html
Tenant Safe Harbor Act
- In June 2020, the governor signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act into law.
- The Tenant Safe Harbor Act is a law that stops tenants who experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 period from ever being evicted for non-payment of rent that became due during the period from March 7, 2020, until the state of emergency ends.
- Landlords may still start eviction proceedings over rent that became due after March 7, 2020, and tenants must raise financial hardship as a defense.
- **Landlords can still obtain money judgments against their tenants for any unpaid rent that accrued during the crisis.
- Money judgments can still be devastating as they can result in wage garnishment and frozen bank accounts.
- NYC housing court began accepting new filings again on June 20th.
- Landlords can file new eviction cases electronically or by mail but tenants who are served with papers for an eviction case do not need to visit the courthouse to respond.
- At this time, the court will default tenants who fail to respond to an eviction petition by January 2, 2021, depending on the extension of another Executive Order or an additional directive from the Office of Court Administration.
- Once you have responded to a petition and/or you have a court date scheduled, you must appear at that court date or you may be defaulted. The court date is most likely virtual. Call the court clerk ahead of time with any questions about the appearance.
- As of October 12, 2020, ALL eviction cases can move forward in housing court. Cases filed before March 17, 2020 are receiving priority for scheduling, but even cases filed after will be scheduled for a court date.
- You should get a letter in the mail telling you when your court date is and how to appear virtually. Please call 311 if you have questions on answering your case in Housing Court.
- Housing Court remains open for applications addressing post-eviction relief, illegal lockouts, and apartment repairs.
- Tenants can file cases to compel their landlords to make repairs by going in person to the housing court in the borough in which they live or by using JustFix (an online application)
NYCHA Administrative Proceedings
- NYCHA and other administrative hearings are still being postponed, however, the NYCHA Hearing Office may be reopening in January 2021.
FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT PUBLIC BENEFITS:
- If your PA case was set to expire on or after September 30, 2020, you are required to submit a recertification form. You will receive a notification on your HRA ACCESS Mobile App or a letter in the mail when the recertification form is due for your case.
- 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
- For the 2020-21 school year, the New York City Department of Education has opened its schools using a “blended learning” model, with a mix of in-person and remote learning.. More updates about the 2020-21 school year can be found here
- The DOE initially closed all school buildings to in-person learning when infection rates in the city reached 3%. However, elementary schools reopened for in-person learning on December 7, 2020, and District 75 schools reopened for in-person learning on December 10, 2020. All middle schools and high schools remain closed for in-person learning.
- Individual schools may close to in-person learning due to COVID-19 infections within the school community. A map of schools with school or classroom closures can be found here.
- Families who have chosen blended learning can choose for their children to do 100% remote learning at any time by filling out this form. There are no official plans for families who have chosen fully remote learning for the school year to have another opportunity to choose blended learning.
- Many locations around the city are serving Grab and Go meals. Students and families can pick up meals at any school building between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Members of the community can pick up meals at various locations around the city between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. No registration, ID, or documentation is required to pick up these meals. People can find the closest location serving meals here, or text “NYC FOOD” or “NYC COMIDA” to 877-877 to find the closest meal hub.
- If you or a family member are unable to work because of factors related to coronavirus, you may be eligible for immediate unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, various forms of paid leave, worker’s comp, short term disability, or a reasonable accommodation such as working from home. You also have the right to work in safe conditions and have protections against discrimination.
- If you want more information about your child’s educational rights in this uncertain time, or what employment benefits you might be eligible for, contact us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 646-971-2722.
- 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, employment benefits, re-entry services, criminal matters or general legal issues, please call 646-971-2722 or email us at email@example.com.
For all media and press inquiries please email Daniel Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org.