Arson Forces Evacuation of NY State Supreme Court

( – New York’s Supreme Court had to evacuate the building recently after a man started a fire inside. The blaze involved documents, and there were no injuries or serious damage, but staff members were forced to flee after the fire alarm was triggered. The court could have been targeted because former President Donald Trump’s fraud trial is taking place there.

In March 2023, a New York grand jury indicted Trump on 34 charges of falsifying business records. His trial is taking place at the lower Manhattan building that also houses the New York State Supreme Court, and lawyers for both Trump and the state are preparing to give their closing arguments next month. That’s raised the profile of a building that was already well known from the media—its distinctive frontage features in the opening credits of “Law and Order,” for example—and having a high profile can attract unwanted attention.

On December 13, hours after testimony in Trump’s trial ended, a man set fire to papers on the fourth floor of the building and then put the blaze out with a fire extinguisher. A fire alarm went off, forcing the court’s occupants—including presiding judge Arthur Engoron—to evacuate into the street as a smoky haze drifted down the stairwells.

Police responded to the incident and arrested a suspect. The fire isn’t reported to have done any damage, apart from the burned papers, and nobody was seriously injured in the incident. However, 17 people were affected by chemical fumes from the extinguisher the perpetrator activated.

Staff members were able to return to the building after firefighters verified that the fire was out. However, it’s safe to assume some work was seriously disrupted, and with so many high-powered lawyers involved on both sides, that’s likely going to cost someone significant amounts of money in legal fees for the wasted time.

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