By: Joseph D. Nohavicka
Getting arrested during normal times is bad enough, but having that happen now?
I am sure most people have heard that courts for the most part have come to a grinding halt. That is not true and criminal courts continue to process people who are arrested every day. But things are done very differently now. Neither the lawyer, nor their client, enters into a courtroom. Amazing.
Here is what happened at P&N today:
A grandmother calls our office and tells us that her grandson has been arrested. We get all the information that we can: where he was arrested, what time, where is he being held, last time she spoke to him, date of birth, employment, living details, marital status, children, prior criminal history, school, health, etc…
- Carla, our resident member of the Criminal Defense Bar of Puerto Rico, Athanasia, Office Manager, both working remotely, made contact with the precinct, got the name and email of the arresting detective, prepared a Letter of Representation to Detective (so that we could get an Arrest Number to be able to track down the client in the system); prepared and faxed (yes, FAX) a Notice of Appearance to enable contact with the Clerk of the Court who provided us with a link to enable a virtual conference with the client……all that in a half hour.
- A link was sent to me by email within minutes of their receipt of the Notice of Appearance.
- I click on the link and I am in the holding pen of Queens Central Booking. And I am looking from the outside through the bars of a cell and there he is: My client! He had been to my office in Astoria on a civil matter. He remembered me and said he was so happy to see me. I explained to him what he was being charged with and that in a few minutes, on this same screen, he would see me, the prosecutor, court personnel, and The Judge. He said he was okay and he sat down.
- During the conference with the client, the clerk had sent me another link, which was for the Remote Courtroom. I clicked on the link and there they were. Our client was now in the hallway somewhere in the bowels of Central Booking. He was standing. I spoke to the Clerk first, who thanked me for wearing a suit. She said you would not believe what comes through their feed with respect to defense counsel’s attire.
In a minute we got started, the client was arraigned in about 5 minutes, and it was over. The judge was releasing him with no bail – ROR (released on his own recognizance). The client was going home.
I shut off the Skype camera and took a draw of my still-hot coffee.
As far as these things go, it was a pleasurable(?) experience. Not bad.