Queens County Criminal Court // Eagle photo by Andy Katz

A Slice of Life on a Busy Day at the Courthouse

By David Brand
Queens Daily Eagle

With summer over and the weather getting colder, normal life has resumed in Queens. Look no further than the long lines stretching from the metal detectors at the criminal courthouse for evidence.

“We’re busy today,” said employee wearing a Department of Citywide Administrative Services lanyard as he carried a plate stacked with bagels through the hallway and onto an elevator.

A court officer agreed. The day after Rosh Hashanah feels like the true beginning of the busy fall, he said.

“The court is back in business,” he said.

Despite the bustle, the camaraderie among court staff was clear in the courtrooms, hallways and elevator bays, where court officers reminisced about their colleagues who died in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks 17 years ago and those who experienced health problems related to their work at ground zero.

One court officer discussed the bravery of his peers in Manhattan who he said “commandeered” a jury bus and drove to the World Trade Center when they learned about the attack.

Inside a courtroom, two others recalled Lt. Theodore “Teddy” Leoutsakos, an Astoria resident who developed cancer related to his experience as a 9/11 first responder.

“Teddy was a nice guy,” an officer said.

One difference was clear at the courthouse Wednesday.

Justice Gregory Lasak’s name still appears on the door outside TAP D, where he presided until last week. Justice Michael Aloise has assumed his calendar, which on Wednesday included appearances by Shangbo Xiangshengjie, who is charged with killing her 15-month old daughter, and Brian White, who is charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon stemming from a 2015 incident.

White’s wife sat in the courtroom near defense attorney Murray Singer and waited for her husband to appear for a conference. She said she comes straight from work to attend each conference or hearing. White’s case will proceed to trial in October.

While waiting for White to enter the courtroom, Singer discussed the “rhythm of the courthouse” and how a new judge presiding over a case does not change much.

“Every judge has their own style,” Singer said. “Some like to start things early, some are later. But we get used to it and adjust.”

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