By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Federal and state courts in New
York City and the surrounding area will remain closed on
Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy unleashed crippling flooding and
damaging winds throughout the region.
With the huge storm gaining strength Monday afternoon and
menacing a wide swath of the eastern seaboard, officials decided
to keep dozens of courthouses shuttered for another day.
Federal courts in the Southern District and the Eastern
District, including courthouses in Manhattan, White Plains,
Middletown, Brooklyn and Central Islip, will be shut down
State courts in the city's five boroughs, as well as Nassau
and Suffolk counties on Long Island, will be shut down. Courts
in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties
will remain closed as well.
Officials added Tioga, Sullivan and Ulster counties in
upstate New York to the list of closures Tuesday, when the storm
was expected to make its way north through the rest of the
state. The Northern District in Albany planned to remain open
Tuesday, though that could change, while the Western District in
Buffalo and Rochester was set to close, according to its
According to the state court system's emergency hotline,
arraignments and emergency applications were still being handled
in the closed courthouses.
"We have an infrastructure that will accommodate folks that
need emergency attention," David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the
state court system, said earlier on Monday. "We understand that
while the courts may be closed, certain functions of the
judicial system need to continue to operate."
Other state and federal courts were closed across the
eastern seaboard from Virginia to Massachusetts. The U.S.
Supreme Court was open for business on Monday, but a court
spokeswoman announced that it would be closed Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and the Manhattan
district attorney's office are shut down through Tuesday as
The closure of Manhattan federal court disrupted what would
have been a busy Monday, when more than 200 prospective jurors
had been scheduled to show up.
Jury selection had been due to begin in the trial of two
former hedge fund portfolio managers charged in a $62 million
insider trading scheme.
Two ongoing major trials also were put on hold because of
Sandy: the criminal retrial of former Mayer Brown partner Joseph
Collins, formerly an outside lawyer for commodities broker
Refco, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil
fraud trial against money market pioneer Bruce Bent and his son
Bruce Bent II.
Sandy was expected to make landfall south of the New York
City region Monday evening, with dangerous storm surges arriving
Last August, the smaller Hurricane Irene forced some court
closures as it passed through the region, though its impact was
greatest in upstate New York, where damage left courthouses in
11 counties closed for a day or more after the storm ended.
For up-to-date information on New York state court closures,
as well as a list of locations to file emergency applications,
visit nycourts.gov or call 800-COURTNY. For updates on the
Southern District, visit www.nysd.uscourts.gov or call
212-805-0515. For updates on the Eastern District, visit
www.nyed.uscourts.gov or call 866-752-7362.
(Additional reporting by Basil Katz and Daniel Wiessner)
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