Brooklyn Court Closed After Positive COVID-19 Tests

By Frank G. Runyeon
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Law360, New York (September 4, 2020, 12:16 PM EDT) -- The chief judge for the Eastern District of New York shut down the main Brooklyn courthouse Thursday evening after court officers tested positive for COVID-19, Law360 confirmed on Friday.

Brooklyn's Theodore Roosevelt Federal Courthouse was shut down on Thursday after court officers tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Chief Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf posted a one-sentence update on the district website stating that the Theodore Roosevelt Courthouse on Cadman Plaza would be closed until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8. An official who works at the courthouse told Law360 that two officers who also work at the building tested positive for the virus, in addition to a third who works at the district bankruptcy court.

The official said the situation will be re-evaluated on Monday, Labor Day, to see whether the building should remain closed. In the meantime, entry to the Roosevelt courthouse is barred to everyone while the facility is being cleaned and authorities conduct contact tracing. 

"The Brooklyn federal courthouse has been closed until Tuesday morning upon recommendation of the court's expert epidemiologist in response to a small, limited cluster of COVID-19 cases, and in order to facilitate cleaning and conduct contract tracing pursuant to CDC protocols," said Michael N. Loguercio, an official in the district executive's office.

"We continue to monitor the situation and will be guided by our expert on any decision to reopen the building. The court is fully operational, and continues to conduct proceedings remotely as it has done throughout the pandemic, including arraignments on new arrests, pleas and sentencings, evidentiary hearings and bench trials, and other criminal and civil proceedings," Loguercio said.

A receptionist at the district bankruptcy court on Friday said the Brooklyn building had been closed since March. A notice on the court's website said that "until further notice, all bankruptcy court hearings will be held by telephone or video."

The closure and infections were first reported by the New York Daily News.

After New York City's federal courts first put restrictions in place in March, hearings and proceedings moved to a video conference or teleconference format. The main Brooklyn courthouse implemented video kiosk temperature checks, mandatory masks and social distancing, as well as a battery of questions for those seeking entry, as it has slowly reopened the courthouses.

The Eastern District recently laid out a plan for in-person jury trials to resume and has conducted increasing numbers of in-person proceedings in recent weeks, according to the court website and a review of court calendars.

--Editing by Alyssa Miller.

Updated: This story has been updated with comment from the district executive.

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