Beth Fertig

Senior Reporter, WNYC News

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter covering courts and legal affairs. She focuses on how different New Yorkers interact with the civil and criminal justice systems. Her work explores whether justice is meted out fairly and whether programs within the courts can reduce incarceration and solve social problems. She also covers the federal immigration courts and how changes in immigration law affect New Yorkers under President Donald Trump's administration.

Beth started working at WNYC in 1995 covering city politics and spent many years covering public education. She is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. She also worked on the award-winning WNYC series  “Being 12” and reported on efforts to promote integration in the New York City public schools. Follow her @bethfertig.

Beth is a New York City native who discovered her love for journalism at her college newspaper at the University of Michigan. She also has a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. She’s won many local and national awards, including the prestigious Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award for Broadcast Journalism for her series of reports in 2001 about an effort to privatize some struggling city schools.

Beth also won an Edward R. Murrow award for an investigation of a subway fire. And she’s won numerous awards from the city's Deadline Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the New York Press Club -- which gave her a special award after the 2001 terrorist attacks for a profile on the friendship of two WTC survivors.

Read Beth's latest reporting on Gothamist.

Beth Fertig appears in the following:

New York’s Criminal Courts Are Getting Busier, But Are They Safe in Pandemic?

Monday, September 14, 2020

With grand juries hearing evidence now and felony defendants going to court in person, there are growing concerns the virus could spread again through the courts.


Courts Try To Resume In-Person Proceedings As Safely As Possible

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Courts struggle to juggle a backlog of cases due to COVID-19, coupled with a growing number of new cases. New York City is trying to get people back in the courtroom however they can appear.


What An In-Person Trial Looks Like in a Socially Distanced Brooklyn Housing Court

Friday, August 21, 2020

Brooklyn housing court trials have resumed in a new location that’s considered safer in a pandemic than the cramped civil court building, but some parties prefer virtual trials.


With Rise In Shootings, NYC Mayor Questions Role of Pandemic-Affected Court System

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio has acknowledged there's no simple reason for the spike in shootings, but is he right when he claims the court system isn't "functioning" due to the pandemic?


Undocumented Immigrants Out Of Work During Pandemic Get Desperately-Needed Cash Assistance

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

A $20 million gift from the Open Society Foundations to New York City took a while to set up. It's now expected to be given out in full by the end of July.


What the New Rollbacks to Bail Reform Mean in New York

Thursday, July 02, 2020

New York’s new law eliminating bail for most offenses got overhauled in April after a backlash. The changes take effect July 2.


Calls Grow for Brooklyn Housing Court to Delay Reopening or Relocate

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Members of congress and state lawmakers say Brooklyn’s Housing court is too unsanitary and crowded to be reopened. Their letter asks the Mayor to permanently relocate it. 


Why the Lawyers Accused of Throwing a Molotov Cocktail at NYPD Police Car Are in Federal Court

Monday, June 22, 2020

Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis were arrested in the early hours of May 30th, after a chaotic night in which protesters threw bottles at police and the NYPD responded with force.

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SCOTUS Rules Trump Administration Can't End DACA

Thursday, June 18, 2020

WNYC's Jami Floyd and Beth Fertig discuss the Supreme Court's decision that the White House can't end the program that allows some children brought to the U.S. illegally to stay.

Accused Looters Spark Another Round of Debate on NY's Bail Law

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Mass arrests for looting have led some to question the new bail law, but others say it’s working as it’s intended, to stop avoid jailing people who are innocent until proven guilty.


As Housing Court Begins to Reopen, Tenant Advocates Fear Renewed Transmission of Coronavirus

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

New York City's civil courts are reopening, as judges and some staffers return. But even with limited business activity, tenant advocates worry the housing courts could soon get busy.

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Lawyers Accused of Throwing Molotov Cocktail at NYPD Vehicle Are Back In Jail

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Urooj Rahman and Colinford King Mattis are being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, after the federal government successfully challenged their release.


Why Soros' $20 Million Donation For Undocumented Immigrants Is Taking So Long To Distribute

Friday, June 05, 2020

A donation from George Soros’s Open Society Institute is taking longer to reach needy immigrants than some might have expected.


DACA Recipients Hurry to Renew Immigration Protections Before Supreme Court Ruling

Friday, May 29, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether President Trump acted legally by ending DACA, and many local immigrants are preparing in case the program is eliminated.


New Justice Center Brings Community Court to Rockaways

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Community leaders in an isolated corner of the city are seeking a different justice model for young people that’s closer to home.


A Flood of Lawsuits Expected Over Coronavirus

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

New York City courts still aren't allowing in-person hearings, unlike most of the state. But civil cases can now be filed electronically and many are related to the coronavirus.


Judge Asks Parties to Consider Mediation in Allegations that Federal Jail in Brooklyn Didn't Do Enough to Stop Spread of Coronavirus

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Judge Rachel Kovner said she was disinclined to order the release of three plaintiffs with underlying medical issues, because she couldn't conclude there was no way of keeping them safe.


In Arguments, Judge Hears Competing Versions Of How Brooklyn’s Federal Jail Worked To Contain Coronavirus

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Plaintiffs accuse the Metropolitan Detention Center of not doing enough to stop the virus from spreading, but the government claims it followed CDC guidance.


With More Releases From Rikers Due To Coronavirus Pandemic, What’s The Real Impact On Crime?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

After the city and state started releasing people from jail in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the NYPD says about 8 percent of those who were let out were arrested again.


Despite New Subway Cleaning, This Early Morning Commuter Fears Riding the Train

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A doctor who rides the A train from Harlem to Queens describes feeling more nervous riding the subway than volunteering at a COVID-19 testing site.