DiFiore: Revised Mask Policy and Physical Distancing Requirement Lifted in NY Courts

By Brandon Vogel

DiFiore: Revised Mask Policy and Physical Distancing Requirement Lifted in NY Courts

6.20.2022

By Brandon Vogel

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In her biweekly address, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that, in a return to full court operations, the three-foot physical distancing requirement has been lifted and is no longer required in any area or for any operation within a court facility.

Based on the continuing decline in Covid-19 cases and evolving public health guidance on Covid mitigation, the courts re-implemented the following mask policy, effective as of June 16.

Judges and court employees displaying a valid, unexpired “Orange Card,” reflecting proof of a booster or third vaccine dose, may enter and work in all areas of our court facilities without a face covering.

Attorneys or staff of public and private agencies who regularly conduct business in our facilities and show valid I.D. and proof of vaccination or booster may obtain a “Green Pass” permitting them to bypass daily Covid screening and conduct business in all areas of the courthouse without a mask.

Jurors and court visitors who show valid ID and proof of vaccinated or boosted status may obtain a temporary “white lapel sticker” allowing them to enter courthouses without a face covering.

2022 Judicial Seminar Series

The in-person seminars will kick off next Tuesday, June 28. This year’s theme is “Empowering the Judiciary to Pursue and Achieve Excellence Through Education,” and the curriculum has been specially designed to support the return to full operations, and the dramatic progress made, pre-pandemic, to move dockets efficiently, reduce backlog and delay and improve the quality of justice services.

“This year’s laser-focus on “effective case flow management” reflects the reality that we have a lot of work ahead of us in order to clear away the backlogs that have built up as a result of the pandemic’s extended impact on court operations,” said DiFiore. “And this year’s seminar is all about empowering judges to combine the successful lessons of the Excellence Initiative with the innovations of the pandemic, including our new hybrid model of court operations, in order to help speed the flow of cases and drive down our backlogs for the benefit of all litigants across the state.”

The deep dive on effective case flow management will include court-specific sessions led by experienced and skilled judges who will present helpful strategies, best practices and practical resources tailored to how we move cases forward to resolution and minimize delay imposed on the parties litigating in unique and different courts.

Remote technology

The innovative “Virtual Jury Selection” pilot program is set to begin on July 6, when a randomly selected group of Manhattan residents will participate in jury orientation and jury selection online through Microsoft Teams.

Jurors selected for service will be instructed to appear in-person for a one-day summary jury trial over which Judge Taylor will preside in the New York County Supreme Court, Civil Term.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Center for State Courts, prospective jurors lacking an internet connection or internet-capable devices will be provided with the necessary equipment in advance of their jury service, and IT professionals will be on hand to provide technical support in advance of and during jury selection.

DiFiore thinks the pilot holds considerable promise for a more convenient and efficient jury selection process, allowing courts in the future to select jurors and schedule trials while limiting courthouse traffic and relieving busy New Yorkers of the need for courthouse travel.

“We look forward to carefully assessing the results of the pilot, including the demographics of the participants and the extent to which the “digital divide” affects prospective jurors, in order to refine and improve the process for possible replication and expansion to other jurisdictions, including rural communities that would surely benefit from remote jury selection,” said DiFiore.

Judge Feinman Award
The Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission has announced that the inaugural “Paul G. Feinman Award,” created to honor Judge Feinman’s legacy as the first openly gay judge to sit on the New York Court of Appeals, will be awarded later this week to Judge Adam Silvera, administrative judge of the Supreme Court, Civil Term, in New York County, in recognition of his extraordinary dedication to advancing justice for LGBTQ individuals.

Congratulations Judge Silvera, and thank you for all that you have done to honor Judge Feinman’s legacy as an excellent judge, devoted public servant and courageous pioneer and role model for lawyers and judges in the LGBTQ community.

Upcoming CLE Webinars

Tuesday, June 21 -Wednesday, June 22 – June 2022 Bridging The Gap

Wednesday, June 22 – Emoticons, Emojis, Smileys And Stickers, Oh My! What Is An Attorney To Do?

Thursday, June 23 – Ethics And Professionalism Update 2021 – Video Replay

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