Westchester, Hudson Valley courts move forward with ‘virtual proceedings’

Each member of the court including the judge, lawyers, court staff and people accused of crimes will appear remotely.

News 12 Staff

Apr 3, 2020, 5:30 PM

Updated 1,507 days ago

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New York is taking an unprecedented step to continue running its court system while protecting people from catching the coronavirus.
Beginning Monday, courts in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, and Dutchess counties will begin virtual proceedings. Each court will use Skype for Business video conferencing for arraignments and bail hearings.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Walsh confirmed that detained defendants will be placed in front of a camera and then will be seen by a judge, who will be at a separate location.
"This provides a safer environment in light of the coronavirus where there won't necessarily need to be any contact between people,” says Rockland senior Assistant District Attorney Nik Nikolakis.
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News 12 is told that last month, local arraignments were centralized at all county courthouses, but still in person. With the new virtual proceedings, social distancing can be enforced.
"Anything we can do to help them and protect them I support 100,000%,” says Walsh.
According to the district attorney, crime in Rockland is down between 40%-50% since the statewide stay-at-home order was put into place. However, there has been a spike in domestic incidents.
If successful, Walsh believes this technology could alter the way courts handle future cases.
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