Stop the City from Moving the Criminal Summons Court Here

criminal summons court petition40 worthI was walking along W. Broadway today, thinking about how moving the criminal summons court to W. Broadway and Thomas—even if “only” for 10 years—really could have a dramatic effect on the area. And I was noticing the flyers that opponents have handed out, encouraging folks to attend tomorrow’s Community Board 1 meeting and to sign a petition. And people started emailing me about it, so I guess my previous mention of the petition wasn’t prominent enough.

Even if you don’t think this is that big of a deal, let’s help send the city a message that these sorts of decisions really should involve community input—until folks happened to find out about it, the city had said nothing.

Sign it here: As for the CB1 meeting, an opponent emailed these instructions: You’d be wise to bring ID, and to get to 4 World Trade Center, walk straight down Church (which turns into Trinity Place) to Liberty, and turn right on Liberty. Head west one block to Greenwich Street. You enter there. (The building looks like it is still under construction.) Subway: Take the E train to WTC stop.  Exit on Church Street (Trinity Place)and follow above directions.

And why not email/tweet/Facebook this to everyone you know who lives in Tribeca?

criminal summons court petition2criminal summons court flyer

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



  1. Ok guys pack it up we’re done here. It was nice while it lasted. #triraq

  2. Ah, how do we say NIMBY? OMG! Our propety values will plummet. Anyone trying to put a facility anywhere in NYC has heard it ad nauseum.

    Come on, folks, isn’t the issue that you don’t want lots of poor African Americans and Latinos and Asians (yes, they commit crimes too) in our precious rich neighborhood? With all the concern about the children and the schools, you’d think they were busing in sex offenders.

    Last time I checked, West Broadway was a commercial street – the narrowness of Thomas Street, while real, is really a side issue.

    So why not come out and say that poor minorities are just…scary…and folks don’t want those accused of crimes in their neighborhoods. Why not come out from behind the code-word “transients” and say black people?

    After all, no one is getting hysterical about the real transients – all those tourists parading through our neighborhood enroute to Ground Zero.

  3. @Precious: My objections to this are not race-based, and I resent the implication. And equating tourists to people who have committed crimes — granted, many are minor — is pretty weak logic.

  4. @Precious: The objection to a CRIMINAL court in a residential neighborhood is not racist. It’s plain common sense. Here are some facts:

    1) The City does not own the court house on Thomas Street. Jeffrey Gural does.

    2) The City did own the building at 346 Broadway where the court was located and sold it for cash. Cold hard cash.

    3) The City needs a new home for this court and is attempting to negotiate a lease in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in country at 71 Thomas Street, with Jeffrey Gural.

    4) Because it is a lease and not City owned property, community input is not required by the City Charter.

    5) This is outrageous.

    6) If you agree, don’t count on others, take the time and attend the meeting at 150 Greenwich tomorrow.

  5. Will the Criminal Summons Court have a 1 am or 4 am closing?

  6. @Angry:

    Tribeca is one of THE most expensive residential neighborhoods.

    3) Office space in Tribeca is much less expensive than midtown, which is why they are trying to get space here. It makes financial sense actually.

  7. @Precious:

    If you want someone to talk in plain speak – here you go. I want as few as possible scumbags in my neighborhood, near my children and my home. NIMBY – exactly. The court shouldn’t be in the middle of any mainly-residential community – whether its Tribeca or any less expensive, yet still mostly residential area. It makes no sense and is unnecessary. Black, brown, blue, yellow, white – who cares what race the criminal is that is coming out of court and walking past my front door? If someone robs your neighbor, do you think anyone feels better about it if it was a non minority. Your statements are not only offensive, but your logic is moronic.

    “So why not come out and say that poor minorities are just…scary…and folks don’t want those accused of crimes in their neighborhoods”

    This statement is infuriating and insulting. I’m not afraid of poor minorities in the slightest. I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I’m married to someone that was a poor minority. I am an active participant in groups that help less fortunate people through education programs. No one, including you, want ppl accused of crimes in their neighborhood – its idiotic to suggest that anyone would.

  8. Well put Mr B.

    The fact of the matter is that criminal courts are rarely put in residential areas no matter what borough, county, or state you look at. Its a simple fact and a logical one at that. They tend to go in highly commercial dense areas.

    Yes Tribeca has commercial buildings, but the majority of this neighborhood is residential. Plus there is a preschool literally half a block away from the proposed court site.

  9. NY Times Editorial: Inside the Warped World Of Summons Court. 6/16/12

    “Judge Noach Dear of Brooklyn Criminal Court made this point in a bluntly worded decision last week, noting that every defendant who has ever come before him charged with drinking alcohol in public had been black or Latino. “As hard as I try,” he wrote, “I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation…

    The system is now the subject of a class-action civil rights lawsuit unfolding in federal court in New York…

    More than a fifth of the summonses issued last year were thrown out either for defects on the ticket or for lack of legal sufficiency…

    The huge number of summons dismissals is at the heart of the civil rights suit, … that was granted class-action status…. The plaintiffs charge that the high dismissal rate is evidence that bogus summonses are issued without probable cause by officers pressured to meet department quotas. These practices, they say, violated their constitutional rights… and in many cases, to arrest and detention for crimes that had not been committed…

    The plaintiffs also allege that summonses are disproportionately issued in minority neighborhoods. Civil rights lawyers say summonses for public drinking — the most common offense — are often handed out in these neighborhoods, where police officers routinely demand to smell people’s juice containers or coffee cups…

    Disorderly conduct is the catchall category, one that can easily mask a summons issued for no reason.”
    Given the racial data produced in this and in the stop and frisk lawsuit, this is very much about poor minorities, many of whom are innocent of what they have been accused of.

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”

  10. Summonses Often Issued, Mostly Tossed NY Tmes 6/16/12

    Of New York City’s summonses in 2011, most were dismissed or thrown out:

    528,000 Total (Citywide)
    212,000 dismissed/conditionally dismissed by a judge
    118,000 flawed or thrown out before court date
    110,000 guilty pleas

    Top 10 offenses (Citywide)

    Public drinking – see comments about this charge in post above
    Obstructing traffic, pedestrians
    Bicycling on sidewalk
    Public urination (misdemeanor)
    Violation of rules in a park
    Violating driving safety rules
    Reckless driving
    Public urination (admin. offense)

  11. Moving this court to this location is not logical and everyone knows it. This decreases the quality of life in our neighborhood.

  12. Yes, it’s not logical and EVERYONE knows it. EVERYONE!! A court house to remain a court house! It’s so illogical. Why don’t they just rent a floating barge to use as the court house? It could safely circle the island of Manhattan with convenient pick-up points at the Seaport, Battery Park, Chelsea Piers, etc. That would be so logical. EVERYONE knows that only THEN would our precious and adorable children be safe, because no nanny would let them swim in the shark-infested rivers surrounding New Amsterdam. Who wants criminals reserving the corner tables at the Odeon, Tamarind, Harrison, Forgione, and Landmarc? And who wants to pick over the leftovers at Stella after the criminals have purchased all of the really good pillows and linens? And what if they make it as far north as SoHo and get first dibs on the limited-run cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery?! Has anyone even thought of that? No, I don’t think so. Thank god for me!

  13. @ Erik – what’s set me off wasn’t your post but the comments on the Move On petition. Sincere apologies to you.

  14. Precious – this, for me, has nothing to do with race. Unless my information is wrong over 75% of these summons are paid in person. Perhaps you think Thomas Street being so tiny is a “side issue” it is really the only issue for me. There is nowhere to spread out.
    You are right that West Broadway is commercial (and residential) but that isn’t my issue.
    Your side issue is my main issue.
    Don’t judge this white chick on race – I’m pretty good at arm wrestling! Just kidding, of course.

  15. All,
    Can we look at this issue rationally without all of rhetoric on both sides?
    The move petition is filled with fear-based language, which does not promote rational thinking. And the objections to community concern are off base and irrational too.

    The question is does it make sense to move the criminal court to the civil courthouse at 71 Thomas for the community, for the courthouse and for the people with summonses?

    Obviously the commmunity objects for various reasons, but the real issue is that tribeca, although it is mixed-use, has primarily turned into a residential neighborhood. Changing the civic court to a criminal court just doesnt jive with the character of the neighborhood any longer.

    The exisitng courthouse was a retrofit of a an old turn of the century office, and the building isnt even well suited for the civil courthouse use. It has no real lobby, the hallways are cramped and the courtrooms are small. That’s why the proposal has people lining up onthe street because there is no real room inside the building for people to wait for their hearing, so they are forced to wait outside in the heat, the rain and the cold.

    At the heart of the matter is that the city wanted to cash in onthe changing neighborhood and sell 346 Broadway. So a beautiful civic building, that is tired and in need of TLC, gets turned into condos for a few who will afford it.

    The city doesnt care about about how this move impacts tribeca or if its the right move for the criminal court house. All they care about is vacating 346 broadway so that the developer can get started with the redevelopment and and the city can get their money, which at the end of the day probably wont be enough. The city simply looked around and saw an underutilized “courthouse” and said lets stick them here and told the criminal courthouse folk “just make it work”.

    So again the bureaucracy comes up with a quick fix that doesnt work. We should not be fighting amongst ourselves but requesting the city provide a proper solution and place the criminal courthouse in the civic center near the other courthouses where it makes the most sense.


  16. Thank you Demetri. Given how the city operates, this make total sense. There is a lot of knee jerk decision making that might seem to make sense to a numbers person on some level.

  17. Demetri: Thanks for putting this in perspective and saying it so well.

    The city is also looking to fill the its coffers with $$$ prior to Bloomberg’s departure, so he can continue to talk about what a great job he has done.