All Judges & Court Staff Will Return to Courthouses May 24

By Christian Nolan

All Judges & Court Staff Will Return to Courthouses May 24

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Good evening Members,

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced during her weekly coronavirus update today that on Monday, May 24, all judgesand court staff will be required to return to work at courthouses statewide.

Our plan to restore full staffing is in line with the state’s reopening efforts, and with the latest public health guidance,” said DiFiore. “The extensive safety measures that we have implemented to protect the health of everyone working in andentering our buildings including COVID screening and temperature checks, disciplined use of face masks and PPE,social distancing protocols, installation of acrylic barriers and strict cleaning and sanitizing will continue.

With normal staffing levels, DiFiore said the courts will be able to conduct an increased number of in-court proceedings, including jury trials. This week there are 55 in-person trials scheduled statewide.

Of course, our return to full staffing does not mean that we will be returning to the densely crowded courthouses of pre-COVID days,” said DiFiore. We are drafting a responsible plan that will limit the number of people physically present in our courthouses to safe and responsible levels, and we will do so by relying on the permanent integration of remote technology and virtualappearances to hear those matters not requiring the physical presence of lawyers and litigants in our buildings.

Zero Tolerance

DiFiore explained that last week a court clerk who was staffing a juvenile delinquency part in the New York City Family Court allegedly used a racial slur and vulgar language in reference to a young person who was appearing before a judge in a virtual proceeding.

The judge presiding over the proceeding promptly andappropriately reported the incident, according to DiFiore, and the matter was referred to the Office of the Managing Inspector General for Bias Matters for the start of an immediate investigation. The next day formal disciplinary charges were filed against the employee in question, said DiFiore, and that employee was suspended without pay.

DiFiore said appropriate due process will now be accorded to the employee, and if the charges are proven by the evidence presented at her disciplinary hearing you can be assured that we will act swiftly to take the strongest possible disciplinary action.

As I have publicly stated, made absolutely clear, and will continue to make clear on a daily basis, not only by my words, but by my actions, we have zero tolerance for racially biased conduct and language on the part of any individual who works for or represents the New York State Unified Court System,” said DiFiore. As employees of the branch of governmentcharged with the solemn obligation to deliver equal justice under law, it is up to each and every one of us to make sure that everyindividual who appears before us is treated with equal dignity and respect, and that every member of our institution is as well.

COVID-19 Webinars

Friday, April 23 – Clinical, Legal, Ethical Considerations in Deliberative Democracy in a Pandemic.

Friday, April 30 – Landlord-Tenant Law During COVID: A Plague on Both Your Houses.

Tuesday, May 4 – Envisioning the Future of Law: Critical Lessons for NY Lawyers From the 2020 Legal Trends Report.

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