Daily Coronavirus Update: Limited In-Person Court Operations Resume Today

By Christian Nolan

May 19, 2020

Daily Coronavirus Update: Limited In-Person Court Operations Resume Today


By Christian Nolan

Good evening Members,

Limited in-person court operations in the 23 counties that make up the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions resumed today and later this week the 12 counties of the North Country and Central New York will do the same, according to Chief Judge Janet Difiore’s latest address.

In those regions, judges and their personal staffs, as well as designated court personnel, are returning to their assigned courthouses and new case filings are being accepted electronically.

“The reopening of these five regions is a very significant turn in the state’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, and our court system is pleased to be able to begin our return to fuller service,” said DiFiore. “But make no mistake, this is most decidedly not a return to business as usual.”

DiFiore said courthouse traffic will be limited in order to minimize the risk of community transmission. The court system will also continue using virtual technology to conduct as much court business as possible and have extended the ongoing suspension of jury operations.

She said the court system has adopted new protocols and safety measures in the courthouses that will be prominently posted in the entrances, including information regarding COVID-19 screening and the mandatory use of face masks by everyone who enters.

DiFiore also noted that beginning today:

  • The state courts have opened a 6th virtual part in the New York City Family Court to handle the rising number of child welfare cases.
  • The state courts are permitting COVID-19-related estate matters to be filed in Surrogate’s courts.
  • And this week, New York City Housing Court judges will begin scheduling and hearing virtual conferences in pending eviction cases where both sides are represented by counsel. This is in an effort to mediate settlements and reduce the caseload prior to what is expected to be a large influx of new eviction cases.

September Bar Exam Applications

The initial September bar exam application period, which ran from May 5 through May 15, has closed.

DiFiore confirmed that due to ongoing public health concerns, social distancing guidelines and crowd density restrictions, seating capacity for the September bar examination will be limited, and the Board of Law Examiners likely will not be able to seat all applicants who wish to take the exam.

The initial application period was limited to any J.D. or LL.M. candidate who is sitting for the bar exam for the first time and who has graduated (or will graduate in spring 2020) from one of the 15 law schools located in New York State.

“However, our efforts to seat as many candidates as possible remain ongoing, and we are continuing to assess available seating in light of public health and safety guidance,” DiFiore said in a statement. “If possible, the Board will re-open the application period at a later date to a broader group of candidates. Above all, the health and safety of all participants must remain our top priority. Further updates will be posted to the Board of Law Examiners’ website.”

NY County Surrogate’s Court Guidance

The New York County Surrogate’s Court has issued guidance effective today, as all essential matters as well as certain non-essential matters are now being handled. Essential matters include applications in cases in which the cause of death is related to COVID-19. Most operations are being handled virtually.

Included in the guidance:

  • Only essential personnel will be in the courthouse. No person should visit the courthouse without first contacting the Chief Clerk’s Office at (917) 509-7218, or at [email protected].
  • Until further notice, petitions and other papers must be filed by mail (USPS or any express mail service) or, if authorized by court personnel, by electronic mail at [email protected]. Please provide contact information, including an email address, when filing.
  • No trials or hearings will commence until further notice. This includes 17-A Guardianships and finalizations of adoptions unless there is urgency to the application. Trials or hearings that had been adjourned to a date in April, May or June 2020 will be adjourned again.

Click here for the full posting from the NY County Surrogate’s Court.

COVID-19 Webinars

Tuesday, May 19 – Negotiating Contracts in the Era of COVID-19: Contract Provisions, Major Unexpected Events.

Tuesday, May 19 – The Financial Impact on Law Firms from COVID-19.

Wednesday, May 20 – Navigating Real Estate Closing Logistics and 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges During COVID-19.

Wednesday, May 20 – Bankruptcy Practice and Procedure During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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, as the state and nation reel from the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, NYSBA is there for our members, for state policymakers and all New Yorkers like never before, because of our technological capacity that is without equal among the organized bar.

We also have today the newest episode of the Miranda Warnings podcast provides a step-by-step guide on how to reopen your law firm. Marian C. Rice (L’Abbate Balkan) & David Schraver (Nixon Peabody) join the show to talk about the NYSBA Working Group to Reopen Law Firms and the model reopening plan the working group released last week to help law firms get back to work as quickly as possible while protecting employees and clients.

As a reminder for tomorrow’s webinar, we take a look at negotiating contracts in the era of COVID-19.

Six diverse people sitting holding signs
gradient circle (purple) gradient circle (green)


My NYSBA Account

My NYSBA Account