Chief Judge Announces Limited In-Person Proceedings

By Christian Nolan

December 14, 2020

Chief Judge Announces Limited In-Person Proceedings


By Christian Nolan

Good evening Members,

In her weekly coronavirus update today, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced which limited matters may be heard in-person in jurisdictions across the state: arraignments, temporary orders of protection, child protection cases involving removal applications, juvenile delinquency cases involving remand applications, emergency family offense petitions and applications addressing landlord lockouts and serious code violations.

“In addition, our judges understand that where self-represented litigants are involved it may be necessary to hear those matters in-person if doing so remotely would deny them meaningful access to justice,” said DiFiore.

Last week, DiFiore announced that due to the resurgence of coronavirus statewide, all nonessential in-person appearances were being temporarily suspended and only a small number of in-person essential and emergency matters would be heard in criminal, family, and housing court.

Additionally, in-person staffing levels were reduced to 40% or less in the courts outside New York City and to 30% or less in the courts within the City.

“Even though we are once again compelled to temporarily reduce in-person operations in response to public health conditions, the good news is that our virtual courts are busier and more productive than ever,” DiFiore said today.

For instance, DiFiore said that for the two-week period ending Dec. 11, judges and staff across the state held over 52,840 remote conferences, settled or disposed of 15,159 of the matters heard, and decided 4,666 motions. On the civil side of Supreme Court, the statewide pending caseload has increased by only 5% from this past spring.

“And while stability is driven, in part, by the 27% decrease in filings that we have experienced, our judges and staff deserve credit for having managed to stay current in the face of the abrupt and dramatic adjustment in court operations – moving from an almost entirely in-person model to what is, at the moment, essentially a 100% virtual model,” said DiFiore. “And not only have our judges and staff made the adjustment, but they have become proficient in working within the new model.”

DiFiore said that not a week goes by without judges and staff engaging in new and innovative solutions to resolve caseloads. She provided a few examples.

  • Expansion of the New York City “Blockbuster Settlement” program to the suburban courts in the Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, where there is progress in settling and resolving a large inventory of tort cases.
  • The Bronx Supreme Court mediation program where, beginning last September, negligence and commercial cases have proceeded to consensual mediation and, to date, 53% of the cases mediated have been settled.
  • Courts in Monroe County in the Seventh Judicial District have been selected as one of seven jurisdictions nationwide to participate in a “Remote Jury Selection Pilot Project.” The New York State Unified Court System is working with the National Center for State Courts to experiment with the use of videoconferencing technology platforms to safely select juries during the pandemic.

COVID-19 Webinars

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – The State of Real Estate Amid the Pandemic.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – Practical and Ethical Considerations for Life-Planning Documents During COVID-19.

Thursday, Dec. 17 – The Tax Trials and Tribulations of a Remote Work Environment.

Latest NYSBA.ORG Coronavirus News

We are adding new content each day to our website related to the coronavirus public health emergency and its impact on the legal community.

Professor Michael L. Fox, a member of the NYSBA House of Delegates and chair of the NYSBA Committee on Communications and Publications, takes a look at “Zoom and Greet!” – Ways To Meet, Network and Socialize at Annual Meeting and Beyond.

In addition to coronavirus updates, we are adding other interesting new content to our website.

We also take a look today at qualified immunity and examine in-depth whether the end is near for the doctrine that has become a target of widespread protests across American society.

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