Daily Coronavirus Update: Virtual Court Operations to Go Statewide, COVID-19 Loan Assistance

By Christian Nolan

March 31, 2020

Daily Coronavirus Update: Virtual Court Operations to Go Statewide, COVID-19 Loan Assistance


By Christian Nolan

Good evening Members,

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore says the New York State Court System has been planning and implementing a statewide virtual court operation for essential and emergency cases and expects all of New York City’s courts to do so by the end of this week.

By the end of next week, she expects all Judicial Districts outside of New York City to be operating virtually to handle essential and emergency matters. Already this week, Suffolk County and the Fifth and Seventh Judicial Districts, covering the Syracuse and Rochester areas, began virtual operations. The state’s Court of Claims also moved to the virtual court model this week.

Last week, DiFiore announced the temporary move to a virtual court model in the New York City Criminal and Family Courts.

She also said the court system has begun discussing with leaders of the tort, commercial, matrimonial and criminal bar how they can incrementally expand court access for those cases, while still minimizing courthouse traffic and protecting public health through virtual operations and remote appearances.

“I want to emphasize that our decision to go to a virtual court model is an extraordinary and temporary measure implemented after several earlier operational iterations and in response to a very fast-moving situation,” said DiFiore. “And like all of the decisions we have made, the decision to go virtual was informed by sound data, was based on the expert recommendations of public health authorities and reflected our deep concern for our judges, court officers, staff
and court users.”

All essential virtual court cases, including arraignments and emergency proceedings, are being conducted remotely by videoconference, telephone and electronic filing. As a result, no judges, attorneys, litigants or other personnel will be present in the courthouses. There will only be appropriate security present, as well as a very small number of clerical staff to process important paperwork.

NYSBA will continue to keep you updated as to all the court systems’ ongoing changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Loan Assistance
Recent federal legislation has established or expanded a number of programs to help small businesses, including law firms, during the COVID-19 crisis. One program provides Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

Small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000.

This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. The loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Businesses may apply for such loans through this link to the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 EIDL application: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

The subcommittee on Economic Assistance to Members of the Solo and Small Practitioner Task Force is working hard to bring you the latest insights on this and other assistance that may be available. Please follow NYSBA’s social media and look out for our daily coronavirus briefings for information as it develops.

Pro Bono Opportunities

Looking to volunteer? Here are a few ways to perform pro bono service and help your community in this time of need.

• The Pro Bono Opportunities Guide is a database of pro bono and legal service providers throughout New York State. Attorneys can search the guide for pro bono opportunities of interest based on county, area of law, and client type (e.g. adolescents, elderly, domestic violence victims). To find a volunteer opportunity that is tailored to your specific requirements, please visit https://www.probono.net/ny/nysba_oppsguide/.

• Free Legal Answers is a virtual legal advice clinic where attorneys can answer questions from the public on civil legal issues on a limited scope basis. Visit https://ny.freelegalanswers.org/ to register as an attorney volunteer.

Please contact [email protected] should you have any questions or are looking for additional ways to volunteer.

Free Webinar Tomorrow
On Wednesday, April 1 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., NYSBA will be presenting its second of three weekly updates and discussions on legal and practical issues arising from COVID-19. The one-hour webinar is free for members and will feature three experienced labor and employment lawyers from Bond, Schoeneck & King.

In these weekly sessions, speakers will summarize the week’s latest federal and state guidelines, inform you of approaches being taken by employers and industry leaders, share the questions they are hearing and provide an update to you.

Click here for more information.

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’s content features a close look at how coronavirus is upending the legal world, lowering revenues and leading to job cuts. We also have an article about why lawyers should join NYSBA’s new well-being roundtable every Thursday at 4 p.m.



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