A State Supreme Court judge ordered New York City officials to process and release 560 people arrested during protests against the Republican National Convention after lawyers said they had been in custody at least 36 hours since their arrests, the Associated Press reported. Justice John Cataldo said the protesters must be arraigned or brought to holding pens at arraignment courts by 5 p.m. New York time, the AP said. Irwin Shaw, a Legal Aid Society lawyer, said most of the protesters were held for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct. Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer, said the city was holding the suspects to prevent them from participating in more demonstrations, the AP said. New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo blamed the delay on the volume of arrests, including 1,200 during a four-hour period Tuesday. The Republican convention ends tonight with President George W. Bush's nomination acceptance speech, informs Bloomberg. According to New York Daily News, a Manhattan judge ordered city officials Thursday to process and release 560 anti-GOP protesters within hours after hearing that the detainees had all spent at least 36 hours in custody since their arrests. The defendants, including scores who had spent more than 38 hours in custody since police picked them up on Tuesday, must be arraigned or brought to the holding pens at the arraignment courts by 5 p.m., said state Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo. Legal Aid attorney Irwin Shaw told the judge that most of the protesters were held for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct. In contrast, he said, shoplifters and other petty criminals arrested on Wednesday night had already been released. About 40 to 50 protesters gathered in a park across the street from the courthouse. They cheered and applauded as a few detainees walked out. “There is no reason this process had to take this long,” said veteran civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who represented the mother of a 17-year-old arrested Tuesday. Siegel charged that the city was holding the suspects to prevent them from participating in other demonstrations. State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo ordered 470 protesters freed, including some who had been awaiting arraignment for almost three days. "These people have already been the victims of a process," the judge told the city's top lawyer. "I can no longer accept your statement that you are trying to comply." The city had blamed the sheer volume of detainees for the backlog in getting them released. More than 1,700 protesters have been arrested during the convention and the preceding few days nearly 1,200 of them on Tuesday during a long-planned day of mass civil disobedience. The judge's order came less than six hours before Bush was to accept his party's nomination for a second term in a speech at Madison Square Garden. Police are expecting potential protests coinciding with the speech, publishes ABCNEWS.
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