Daily Coronavirus Update: All Courts Outside NYC Begin Phase Two

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced today that by tomorrow courts in every judicial district outside New York City will have begun phase two of a gradual return to in-person operations.

Today, courts in the Third Judicial District encompassing Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties and the Ninth Judicial District that covers Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties entered phase two. Tomorrow courts in the Tenth Judicial District of Nassau and Suffolk counties will begin phase two.

“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 courthouses,” said DiFiore.

Over the past two weeks, judges, chambers staff and support staff have been returning to their courthouses. The goal of phase two, officials said, 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.

Additionally, according to DiFiore and Marks:

  • 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.

Steps implemented during this second phase 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. During the second phase, non-judicial staffing levels will minimally increase to support necessary administrative court functions as well as to provide support for the increase in foot traffic in the courthouse. Other court staff will continue to work virtually.

COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force Report

The report of the COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force was released today by the governor’s office and recommends re-imagining New York’s entire approach to services for survivors of domestic violence.

The recommendations identified by the Task Force recognize that the needs of domestic violence survivors vary greatly and there are different tools needed to allow each survivor maximum control over their situation including mobile advocacy, flexible funding and housing choice.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has accepted the task force’s recommendations and is directing the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, along with other sister agencies of the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Victim Services, the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Health to use these recommendations to update and improve domestic violence services in New York State.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Using new technologies to reach more survivors.
  • Providing flexible funding to meet the diverse needs of survivors.
  • Removing the requirement that domestic violence victims file a police report in order to access victims of crime act funding.
  • Addressing the needs of black, indigenous and people of color survivors of gender-based violence.
  • Normalizing domestic violence screening during tele-health visits.
  • Launching a new prevention initiative specifically directed at educating men about domestic violence.

In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data reported by law enforcement and domestic violence service providers pointed to an increase in domestic violence, with the New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline recording a 33% increase in calls for April 2020 compared to April 2019, and shelter occupancy rates upstate rising to 78% in April 2020, versus 59% in April 2019.

COVID-19 Webinars

Friday, June 12 – Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Counseling Clients Through a Crisis.

Tuesday, June 16 – As Businesses Reopen, the Lawsuits Begin: The Landscape for the Post-COVID Deluge of Lawsuits, the Intersection of Insurance and Using ADR for Expedited Resolution.

Tuesday, June 16 – Managing Attorneys and Support Staff in the Time of COVID-19.

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.

Today Robert N. Swidler, VP of legal services at St. Peter’s Health Partners – a large not-for-profit health care system in New York’s Capital Region, explains everything from emergency orders to regulatory reform in post-emergency New York.

 

 

 

 

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