Full Moon Antics in Night Court

Full Moon Antics in Night Court

Anyone looking for an unpredictable way to spend an evening in October should make a visit to Night Court in lower Manhattan, but try to avoid being the one behind bars. For everyone arrested in New York City, their arraignment is held within 24 hours in the Criminal Court located in the borough in which they were arrested. This is where they are seen by a judge, who will set the bail for their crime. Manhattan Night Court operates from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night due to so many arrests being made in the city that longer hours are necessary to process everyone.

The court room is reminiscent of a busy train station, people coming and going at all hours, the room swelling with people and then emptying out routinely. Judge Guy Mitchell rules the court this weekend. Visitors sit in silence in the eight sets of wooden benches at the back of the room. Every time someone in the audience breaks one of the court rules, they are reprimanded by one of the dozen police officers patrolling the room – no food, no drink, no pictures, no phones, no talking. In the front half of the room, employees are buzzing back and forth between desks covered in stacks of manila folders, scattered water bottles, and leather briefcases as they hand off paperwork and whisper to colleagues. They sit at their desks typing, texting, chatting and laughing.

The defendants are not difficult to pick out after spending the night in jail – they are tense and tired, dirty and disheveled. Their outfit of choice seems to be a black hoodie and jeans. Some of them wear shiny silver handcuffs around their wrists. Some wear matching shackles around their ankles.

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