Coronavirus Daily Update: Court System Moves to Phase Two of In-Person Operations

By Christian Nolan

June 3, 2020

Coronavirus Daily Update: Court System Moves to Phase Two of In-Person Operations


By Christian Nolan

Good evening Members,

The state court system announced today that courts spanning three upstate judicial districts will enter their second phase of a gradual return to in-person operations this week, coinciding with the second phase of New York’s reopening.

Courts in the Fifth Judicial District (Syracuse and surrounding counties), Sixth Judicial District (Binghamton and surrounding counties) and Seventh Judicial District (Rochester and surrounding counties) will enter phase two on Wednesday, June 3.

On Friday, June 5, courts throughout the Eighth Judicial District (Buffalo and surrounding counties) and courts in most counties encompassing the Fourth Judicial District (northern New York) will also move to the second phase of gradual in-person operations.

As part of the second phase:

  • Essential family matters will be conducted in-person and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental hygiene law proceedings pertaining to a hospitalized adult will be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Non-essential matters will continue to be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Mediation/alternate dispute resolution will be conducted virtually.

Over the past two weeks, judges, chambers staff and support staff in courts in these judicial districts have all met the governor’s safety benchmarks and have been returning to their courthouses.

Officials said the goal of the court system’s second phase is to safely increase courthouse foot traffic in a gradual manner, so that the court can select matters that require an in-person appearance while continuing to maximize virtual appearances.

“As we progress toward fuller in-person court operations across the state, our foremost priority remains protecting the health and safety of all those who work in and visit our court facilities,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

Steps implemented during phase two to encourage physical distancing and reduce the number of people in any given room in courthouses include staggering case types, court calendars and courtroom use. Non-judicial staffing levels will increase minimally to support necessary administrative court functions as well as to provide support for the increase in foot traffic into the courthouse. Non-reporting court staff will continue to work virtually.

Measures from the first phase that will remain in place to protect the health and safety of judges and staff, attorneys, litigants and members of the public include:

  • Non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse.
  • Anyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask.
  • All staff who interact with court visitors must wear a mask.
  • Courtroom and other areas will be carefully marked to ensure proper physical distancing.
  • Court facilities will be regularly sanitized.
  • Installation of acrylic barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and other safety features.

The June session of the New York State Court of Appeals commenced today in Albany with six of the seven judges in attendance. Associate Judge Paul Feinman attended virtually. Attorneys argued two of the three cases virtually, with appearances on the third.

COVID-19 Memorial

NYSBA is inviting you to join us in a special tribute to the spirit of our colleagues who lost their lives to COVID-19.

A COVID-19 memorial video will be played during the virtual meeting of the NYSBA House of Delegates on Saturday, June 13, and will also be shared on the NYSBA website and social media.

If you would like to honor an attorney, judge or legal professional who passed away as a result of the pandemic, please email [email protected] by Friday, June 5, with the name and city of the colleague to be memorialized.

COVID-19 Webinars

Thursday, June 4 – Attorneys Guide to Navigating the Pandemic – How to Survive and Thrive in the New Normal.

Thursday, June 4 – When Fear Goes Viral: A Cultural and Legal History of the Fear of Infectious Disease and Unconscious Bias.

Thursday, June 4 – Strategies for Successful Virtual Interviewing.

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.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, NYSBA President Scott Karson was sworn in Monday evening by New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore during a virtual ceremony that was the first of its kind in NYSBA’s 144-year history and was attended by more than 250 guests.

Also today, Orna Artal, co-founder of Ramos & Artal, a dispute resolution firm in New York City where she serves primarily as a mediator in a wide variety of commercial disputes, makes the case for virtual mediation.




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