New York City shuts down all-night court

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New York City’s State Supreme Court has closed its arraignment court that had handled cases between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. during the high crime era of the 1980s and 1990s. The New York Times reports that the final session was held last Saturday. “It’s the end of an era,” said Justice Robert C. McGann, who presided over the last “lobster shift.” Looking to cut up to $10 million from his office’s budget, Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, asked the courts to eliminate the overnight shift so that he could cut the number of prosecutors in the trial division to the bare minimum needed to staff Manhattan Criminal Court.

The typical annual class of 65 new assistant district attorneys was cut to 40 last year. As the staff shrunk, the night court “wasn’t a good use of resources,” said Mr. Morgenthau’s spokeswoman, Barbara Thompson. The court had been busy partly because the number of misdemeanor cases soared under former Mayor Rudolf Giuliani’s crackdown on petty crimes. In 1991, the State Court of Appeals ruled that anyone arrested in New York who was not arraigned within 24 hours was eligible for immediate release.


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