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New York’s court system is suspending eviction proceedings, pending eviction orders and other “non-essential” cases in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a memo from Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks.

The order to postpone these trials went into effect on Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m., as Judge Marks noted that even in addressing essential cases, judges should exercise judicial discretion to “minimize court appearances and traffic.” On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he asked Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to come up with a plan to slow down traffic in the courts amid the pandemic.

According to NY Curbed, the suspension applies to residential and commercial evictions.

The memo also states pending criminal and civil trials will continue to conclusion, but no other criminal or civil trials will take place until further notice.

The news comes three days after 24 state senators, including Queens Senators Michael Gianaris, John Liu, Jessica Ramos, and Leroy Comrie, sent a letter to Judge DiFiore requesting the courts institute an evictions moratorium immediately, citing precedents of 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

But the call to action began with a petition that has collected more than 16,000 signatures as of Tuesday, March 17. The petition was created by Upstate/Downstate Housing Alliance (or Housing Justice for All), a coalition of advocacy groups including Make the Road New York, VOCAL New York and Citizen Action of New York, among many others.

The New York City court system then issued a week of evictions moratorium on Friday.

NY Curbed also reported that a coalition of 29 landlords in the city pledged to stop evictions for three months due to the coronavirus.

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