Letter to the Judiciary Opposing Phase 3 Reopening
We have received numerous calls and emails from members who are understandably distressed by the Phase 3 reopening of the state courts, which includes mandatory, in-person appearances for non-emergency hearings such as summons arraignments. In response, MACDL’s Board addressed a letter to Chief Justice Gants and Chief Justice Carey citing our concerns, along with the following proposals:
Suspend the plan to require in person appearances for non-emergency matters until all interested parties have the opportunity to work together to develop plans and protocols for returning to Court in a safe manner.
Permit attorneys and defendants with preexisting medical conditions, or who are over age 60, or who live with people in those categories to participate in court proceedings remotely in lieu of any in-person hearing.
Give prisoners the option of a virtual appearance, either because of a preexisting medical condition, or because they do not wish to be placed in segregation for two weeks following their appearance.
Provide the defense bar with all written safety protocols generated to date, the identity of the court’s epidemiologist, and a copy of the 60 questions presented to each court and their responses, so that our expert will have the opportunity to consult regarding the plans and protocols for returning to Court in a safe manner.
Please see the letter in its entirety below. If you are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or a pre-existing medical condition, or are caring for someone in this category, and you are being required to attend an in-person hearing without your consent, please contact MACDL’s Strike Force — John Swomley (617-610-5207) or Ed Masferrer (617-803-9614) — to discuss your circumstance and MACDL will support you. Please also feel free to contact me with your concerns.