A Criminal Court in the Heart of Tribeca?

Late yesterday, I received an email saying that the Civil Court at 40 Worth (which has an entrance at Thomas and W. Broadway) is going to be used as a Criminal Summons Court. I’m trying to verify this; in the meantime, if you know anything, please contact me at tribecacitizen@gmail.com or 917-209-6473. Update: I asked one of the folks emailing it how they heard about the plan. “It came to light a couple of weeks ago as ‘a possibility’—a consideration along with 3 or 4 other locations. Then at the end of last week, the information received was that it was ‘a done deal’ and the 40 Worth location had been decided upon as the location.”

Here’s the letter:

To Everyone Who Works and Lives in Tribeca,

It has come to our attention that the present Civil Court location on the corner of Thomas and West Broadway (40 Worth building) is planned as a NYC Criminal Summons Court location. The Court would deal in all criminal summons issued in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

While diversity of use has always been a part of the Tribeca fabric, the installation of an institution such as a Criminal Court Summons destination is inappropriate. Why locate this facility in a neighborhood dominated by residents, small businesses and preschools?

In 2012, over 510,000 summonses were issued in New York City. Manhattan and Brooklyn contributed more than 86% of the revenue derived from those summonses. More than 40 certified agencies throughout the city including the NYPD, the MTA, the NYCFD, the ASPCA, the T&LC, OTB Corp, Tax Enforcement, Roosevelt Island Authority, Unified Court System and more are authorized to serve the summonses. Typically courts dealing with Criminal Court summonses like these entail long lines and unpredictable behavior. The Civil Court presently located at 40 Worth St has it own set of logistical challenges, but it is manageable. Numbers and reputations such as those associated with the Criminal Summons Court are not.

Many members of the neighborhood are extremely concerned about a court of this nature at this location. The Criminal Summons Court would be a serious threat to neighborhood businesses. It would place an unfair burden on an area finally finding its equilibrium after many starts and stops. READ the FACTS: www.streetsblog.org/wpcontent/pdf/AnnualReport2012.pdf

Please join us and make your voice heard to prevent a Criminal Summons Court at 40 Worth Street. Contact Community Board 1 at man01@cb.nyc.gov and local elected officials today. PASS IT ON! [Note: Subsequent emails indicated that residents are intending to bring it up at the meeting of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee on Wednesday.]

Update: I have a call in to the criminal court system, and I ran it by CB1. They said they’ve heard the rumor, too, and note that the individual committees may decide whether to address the issue as new business—but, and this is me (not CB1), I imagine they can’t do much until there’s an official announcement of the plan.

Update #2: From Roger Byrom of CB1: “I just talked with Catherine McVay Hughes – our Chair. Catherine is adding this item to the Tribeca meeting that is scheduled for tomorrow – Wednesday October 9 – 6pm. It will be agenda item number two – so will probably be heard at around 6.15pm. Please share this news with everyone. The meeting will be held at the Community Board #1 Office  49-51 Chambers Street – Room 709.

Update #3: Someone at the criminal court said that New York state is the tenant and New York City is the landlord, and now that the city has sold 346 Broadway, it has to find someplace for the summons court—and while a few locations are possible, no final decision has been made.

Update #4: The Tribeca Trib tracked down what seems like the source of the criminal court rumor: “Jon McGowan, a clerk who works for a state Supreme Court judge, may have sparked the concern with an email he sent out on Monday about a “hot rumor” among the court officers and ‘a couple of judges’ at 71 Thomas Street. ‘This move will occur October 2014. The civil Supreme Court staff, it is rumored, will move to 111 Centre Street,’ he wrote.”

Update: Comments have been turned off due to spam. To have them turned back on, email tribecacitizen@gmail.com.



  1. Can this move really be argued against when they were two blocks away (Bway at Leonard & Worth) for the last 40 years or more?

  2. jfrankp, yea it can be. And it’s more than 2 blocks, and not in a residential area.

  3. Gee, Leonard and Broadway, where I’ve resided the past 35 years, isn’t a residential area? Good to know! Sheesh.When I go to the corner bodega and see officers from Homeland Security and the FBI getting coffee I feel like I’m in one of the safest places in any big city. Rather than try to oust everything that makes this a metropolis from the metropolitan area, perhaps those who can’t bear to live in a metropolis should consider their living arrangement.

  4. Another unsubstantiated rumor “reported” by Torkells

  5. @gh: Please do check back tomorrow, when I post about a rep for the mayor’s office confirming that the plan is pretty much set.

  6. The sheer numbers of transient visitors (600 to over 1000 everyday)to this area of Tribeca is unacceptable. That alone would change the nature of our sidewalks. Thomas Street is an extremely narrow street and home to a preschool along with residential buildings. There are no public areas other than the sidewalks anywhere in the vicinity. The current summons court, at 346 Broadway(entrance on Leonard opposite Family Court), is part of a Civic area. To the south is Foley Square and City Hall Park. Immediately to the north is Collect Pond Park (which is adjacent to NYC Civil Court.) To the east is Columbus Park. The J, N,R, Q and 6 trains are all available close by. The area is a Civic and court focused one and the Summons Court should be accommodated in just such an area. Please attend the CB1 “Quality of Life” Committee meeting on Oct 17th, 6pm, 51 Chambers, Rm 709. Most importantly, come to the full CB1 meeting Thursday, Oct 22nd, 150 Greenwich Street. 6PM.
    Bring your kids if necessary. WE need EVERYONE to be there and be heard. Please be there! Read all the facts about the Criminal Summons Court (pg 33-37) http://www.streetsblog.org/wpcontent/pdf/AnnualReport2012.pdf)

  7. YES, YES, YES, we need EVERYONE to bring their CHILDREN as props! It might be a good idea to not bathe or feed your child for a few days prior, so they look extra heartbreakingly adorable.

  8. “Thomas Street is an extremely narrow street”. And West Broadway and Church streets are extremely wide. And?

    “There are no public areas other than the sidewalks anywhere in the vicinity.” And I’m sure no one who has considered this plan has given even the slightest thought to that matter because they are all very, very dim and have no experience whatsoever in their field.

    Are people envisioning that because there is another court in the area there will soon be hordes of scurvy psychopaths with weapons congregating by the hundreds in the street at all times? Or at any time? Do people seriously think that law enforcement would take on itself that kind of liability?

  9. There is already a significant influx of people from the courts just east of Tribeca. Sometimes new Could not those 600 to 1000 people every day go a long way towards supporting local restaurants and small businesses?

    Sometimes serving on a jury is the way uptown folks discover this area of town.

  10. This proposal was very poorly contemplated and is frankly absurd. First, the long lines of people (which is typical for this court) would prove to be a logistical issue for residents and business owners on that block. Second, the average person visiting this court is not the kind of individual who is going to pay $35 for lunch at The Odeon, so don’t kid yourself this will help local business. Third, many of the individuals visiting this court are less than stellar citizens, and not exactly the kind of people you want hanging around when there are three pre-schools in the vicinity. Finally, Tribeca is the most expensive real-estate in the city. It is preposterous that the city would use this location for this court, when they could lease the space out, use a portion of the revenues to obtain a more affordable space in a commercial location, and then have cash to spare to put towards the city’s depleted budget.

    Btw… http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-criminal-summons?source=c.em.mt&r_by=9253638