Daily Coronavirus Update: NY Court System To Further Expand Virtual Courts

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks released a memorandum this afternoon to all trial court justices and judges explaining the next steps in the court system’s continuing expansion of its virtual court system.

Beginning Monday, May 4, new motions, responsive papers to previously filed motions and other applications, including post-judgment applications, may be filed electronically in pending cases either through the NYSCEF e-filing system in jurisdictions that have it or through a new electronic document delivery system that has been created for courts and jurisdictions where e-filing is unavailable.

This new document delivery system will enable lawyers and litigants to send documents to courts for filing and other purposes in a secure and efficient manner. A requirement of the new document delivery system is that all filings require service by electronic means.

Other new steps are as follows:

  • Problem-solving courts may conduct virtual court conferences with counsel, court staff, and service providers via Skype for Business.
  • Judges may resume referral of matters for alternative dispute resolution, including to neutrals on court-established panels, community dispute resolution centers, and ADR-dedicated court staff.
  • Notices of appeal may be filed electronically, either through NYSCEF or through the new document delivery system.

“These are significant additional steps that will widen judicial work and responsibilities without rendering more difficult our continuing commitment to virtual court proceedings and the limitations inherent in those proceedings,” Marks told the justices and judges in his memo.

NYSBA President Hank Greenberg applauded the virtual court system’s expansion.

“It is welcome news for attorneys across the state – and for all New Yorkers – that New York’s virtual courts will be expanding the type of motions that can be filed and allowing the filing of appeals in existing cases,” said Greenberg. “New York’s lawyers are thrilled to see the virtual courts take another step toward normal operations, and we wholeheartedly support the latest actions taken by the court system.”

On April 13, virtual courts began to expand beyond just essential and emergency matters, by conferencing pending cases, deciding fully submitted motions and resolving ad hoc discovery disputes.

According to Marks, trial judges have conducted conferences or other court proceedings in over 25,000 cases since April 13. He said one-third of those cases have been settled or otherwise disposed.

“This is critically important, because if we can eliminate the current backlog of undecided matters, we will be in a far better position to absorb what promises to be a surge of new litigation once the court system returns to more normal operations,” said Marks.

Memorandums of Understanding

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, NYSBA has reached out to 109 bar associations on seven continents as a first step toward establishing official working relationships with those organizations that share mutual interests.

“The global pandemic of COVID-19 has upended the world. This imposes a special duty on our profession and provides an opportunity to perform an important public service,” said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. “Our respective communities need the wisdom of lawyers, our expertise, our ability to see both sides of an issue, to find common ground, and bring people together.

“Thus, we are reaching out to major bar associations around the world,” continued Greenberg. “We want to explore ways in which we can work together, support one another, and forge an enduring relationship that will help us better serve our members, clients and communities.”

NYSBA is seeking the collaborations – officially called memorandums of understanding – to share resources and support and advance the rule of law. In turn, this will expand opportunities to increase membership for both associations, as approximately 26,000 attorneys admitted to the New York bar reside outside of the United States.

NYSBA reached out to 109 bar associations spanning 68 countries on seven continents including bar associations in China, Hungary, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, Turkey and the Middle East.

Earlier this year, at NYSBA’s Annual Meeting, the association pledged to launch a global membership initiative to collaborate with bar associations around the world. NYSBA then entered into historic memorandums of understanding with the Seoul Bar Association in Korea and the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association in Japan.

With each letter, NYSBA has included its new 40-page book, “The New York State Bar Association: A Legacy of Leadership,” which describes the association’s storied history and continuing commitment to do the public good.

Law Day Tomorrow

In keeping with the May 1 Law Day tradition, the state court system has partnered with NYSBA and the state Attorney General, to celebrate a “virtual” Law Day online Friday morning.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, NYSBA President Hank Greenberg and state Attorney General Letitia James will all give speeches. This year’s Law Day theme is “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100.”

“The purpose of Law Day is to celebrate the rule of law and rededicate ourselves to upholding it,” said Greenberg. “The importance of that exercise has never been greater than at this moment, as the global pandemic upending our lives has placed unprecedented strain on the courts and other institutions upon which our freedom and prosperity depend.”

Stay tuned to NYSBA’s social media for a link to watch Friday morning’s virtual Law Day ceremony.

Click here to read President Greenberg’s Law Day article in the New York Law Journal.

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.

The next generation of clients may not call their lawyers but will happily jump on a computer or use their device to communicate. Click here to read about how law firms are already virtual and that it is time to embrace it.

In case you missed it yesterday, NYSBA has updated its Public Health Legal Manual during the pandemic. Click here to learn more and find out how you can get a free digital copy.

 

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