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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Coronavirus Kills Brooklyn Civil Court Judge

     In New York City on March 12, 2020, 64-year-old Brooklyn Supreme Court Civil Judge Johnny Lee Baynes conducted business as usual in a courtroom packed with lawyers, clients, court officers and clerks. One of the attorneys in the room that day asked the judge if it were appropriate, given the COVID-19 pandemic, for so many people to be crowded in such a small place. In response, Judge Baynes said, "If you don't like it you can leave." Following that exchange, the court session continued.

     On March 16, 2020, trials and hearing at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Civil Administration Building were suspended due to the pandemic. The day before the courthouse closed, a lawyer who had visited the building a few days earlier tested positive for the virus.

     On March 26, 2020, Judge Baynes died of the coronavirus. Three other judges who worked in the building tested positive for the disease. One of these judges, Lawrence Knipel, had to be hospitalized. 

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