Good afternoon Members,
During her weekly coronavirus update today, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that the four departments of the New York State Unified Court System’s Appellate Division have removed the question from the bar application that inquires into an applicant’s citizenship and immigration status.
“Citizenship is not a prerequisite for admission to the bar under New York law, and so it has been determined that the question should be eliminated,” said DiFiore.
The latest action by the Appellate Division follows last year’s removal of questions about an applicant’s mental health conditions and treatment history, which the New York State Bar Association strongly recommended eliminating.
“We thank and commend the presiding justices of the Appellate Division – Rolando Acosta, former P.J. Alan Scheinkman, Elizabeth Garry; Gerald Whalen – and the members of their respective courts, for addressing these issues in a speedy and responsive manner,” said DiFiore.
Virtual Bench Trials
DiFiore said that with each passing week, judges and staff are growing more proficient and productive with their virtual courts by conferencing and settling cases, narrowing disputed issues, deciding motions, referring matters to alternative dispute resolution, and by conducting an ever-increasing number of virtual hearings and trials.
For instance, she said judges and staff commenced 3,857 virtual bench trials, including evidentiary and fact-finding hearings, in November and December when almost all in-person proceedings were temporarily halted.
She also said over 300 virtual bench trials began in Supreme Court in a broad range of civil, tort, commercial and matrimonial matters, plus 616 trials in lower civil courts, as well as scores of trials in criminal courts.
“These numbers are a testament to the resolve and adaptability of our judges, staff and the lawyers who practice in our courts, and their commitment to new and effective ways of delivering justice and meeting the demand for our services during these extraordinary times,” said DiFiore.
Virtual Town Hall Re: Systemic Racism in the Courts
DiFiore also announced today that a live “Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Dismantling Systemic Racism in the Courts” will be held on Thursday, Jan. 7, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. She said the purpose of the event is to update judges and court staff on the status of the strategic plan to implement the recommendations of Jeh Johnson’s Equal Justice Report, and on the commitment she has made on behalf of the court system to achieve a policy of zero tolerance for racial bias and discrimination.
The event will be livestreamed on the court system’s website.
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