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Michael O’Malley, the courtroom clerk of Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Joan B. Carey, spent three hours Tuesday walking from his home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to the Manhattan Civil Court building at 111 Centre Street. Like him, hundreds of other court employees went beyond the call of duty to get to their jobs on the first day of a transit strike by New York City subway and bus workers. As a result of their efforts, officials said, the courts were well staffed and court operations went smoothly considering the adverse circumstances. Throughout the city, 90 percent of Supreme Court justices and their support staff and 85 percent of court officers were on the job Tuesday, reported Carey, who is in charge of state courts in New York City. In the five boroughs’ Criminal Courts, attendance of all court employees was near 100 percent, said that court’s administrative judge, Juanita Bing Newton. Legal Aid lawyers and assistant district attorneys also showed up in abundance, and there were no delays in arraigning defendants, Carey said. The courts also were aided by the fact that there were fewer arrests than usual, she said. In Brooklyn, for instance, there were 230 defendants awaiting to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The usual number is often more than 400. Six juries were either in deliberations or hearing evidence on Monday. Those cases all continued without a hitch Tuesday as jurors were able to find ways to get to court, Carey said. The strike also occurred at a propitious time for the courts because traditionally no trials take place during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Ordinarily, judges would today begin deferring the start of jury selection for any new trial until next year, said Acting Justice Neil Jon Firetog, the administrative judge for the Supreme Court in Brooklyn. To be on the safe side, he said, judges Tuesday adjourned until next year several cases that might possibly have been completed by Friday. In Brooklyn, a grand jury was functioning, avoiding the need to invoke “a good cause” exception to prevent the freeing of prisoners who had been incarcerated for more than five days without being indicted, Justice Firetog said. But there were a few problem areas Tuesday. On the civil side of Manhattan Supreme Court, only 60 percent of the court’s support staff made it to work, compared with 80 percent of court officers and all of the court’s judges. One possible cause was the lack of jury vans to ferry employees from above 96th Street to the courthouses around Foley Square, said Justice Helen Freedman, who was serving as acting administrative judge Tuesday. Van service will be added from 124th Street on both the East and West sides today, she said. But, she noted, there are only likely to be two trips from each location, and the vans carry a maximum of 15 riders. Only about 30 percent of non-incarcerated criminal defendants showed up for their court appearances, Newton said. Judges in those cases issued bench warrants but stayed them until the defendants’ next appearance date. Similarly, many litigants did not show up for Housing Court cases, said Administrative Judge Fern Fisher. The judges “did not take defaults because they were aware that people couldn’t get to court,” she said. For now, marshals are not carrying out evictions because there is a concern tenants are unable to get to court to obtain orders preventing them, Fisher added. The turnout Tuesday in Surrogate’s Court was also very light, said Carey. LAW FIRMS At the city’s major law firms, advance preparation also meant work continued relatively smoothly. Most had hired shuttle vans and car services to bring in lawyers and essential support staff. Dress codes have also been eased at firms to allow lawyers and staff to wear more comfortable clothes for longer commutes. Moreover, many lawyers armed with Internet connections chose to work from home instead of chancing the commute at all. Jeffrey Bagner, a corporate partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, said his commute from Long Island had not been as bad as he expected. Arriving on the Long Island Railroad at Pennsylvania Station, he accompanied his son, a psychology graduate student, across town to an interview at Bellevue Hospital, then rode a ferry down to Fried Frank’s offices near Wall Street. “It took 10 minutes,” he said of the ferry. “I had just started reading my newspaper and I was there.” But he said he thought a fair number of lawyers had stayed home. More might come in later in the week, he said, but others may be able to ride out the strike through the holidays. “This time of year, lawyers are either very, very busy,” he said, “or things are extremely slow.” Anthony Lin contributed to the reporting of this article.

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