Three judges die from coronavirus, almost 170 court workers infected

April 29, 2020
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Nearly 170 employees from New York’s court system have been infected with coronavirus and four have succumbed to the bug — including a judge who passed away Tuesday morning, New York Post reports.

State Supreme Court Justice Steven Milligram, 66, who had just been elected to his seat in Orange County this past November, is the third Empire State judge to die from COVID-19.

Prior to his election to state Supreme Court, Milligram, a Yonkers native, served for eight years as Monroe Town Justice.

“It’s a tragic loss,” Mark Starkman, president of the Orange County Bar Association, told The Post. “He would have had a stellar judicial career had he stayed on the bench.”

Two Brooklyn Supreme Court judges who both handled civil cases — Johnny Lee Baynes, 64, and Noach Dear, 66 — also died from the virus.

An additional 14 judges from around the state have also tested positive for the virus, an Office of Court Administration spokesman said.

In all, 168 of the state’s 16,000 court employees — of whom some have continued to show up for work at courthouses throughout the pandemic — have tested positive for the coronavirus, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said Monday in a video address posted to the system’s website.

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“More than half of them are members of our uniformed forces, underscoring the risks they face, and the courage they show, in reporting to work every day to keep our courts open,” DiFiore said.

New York’s state courts have been operating mostly through Skype and teleconference throughout the last month — though some court security officers and clerks are still showing up to courthouses in person.

The system has been opening back up slowly after court officials limited operations to focus on essential matters like arraignments and issuing temporary orders of protection.

Two weeks ago, court system brass implemented a “virtual court” model and began allowing proceedings for pending civil cases to move forward.

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