New Working Group To Examine New York State Courts’ Pandemic-Related Practices

By Brandon Vogel

New Working Group To Examine New York State Courts’ Pandemic-Related Practices

5.5.2022

By Brandon Vogel

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A newly-formed Pandemic Practices Working Group will examine the courts’ response to COVID-19 and  determine which policies should be kept in place after the pandemic ends.

The working group, led by Supreme Court Justice Craig J. Doran of the Seventh Judicial District, is the latest offshoot of the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, chaired by Henry M. Greenberg, a past president of the New York State Bar Association. The commission, appointed by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in 2020, includes judges, lawyers, academics and technology experts.

“The pandemic presented, and continues to present, enormous challenges. However, with those challenges come opportunities to improve, via novel approaches, the delivery and quality of justice services,” DiFiore said. “I am grateful to the commission’s chair, Hank Greenberg of Greenberg Traurig, and to its members for their critical guidance and contributions to date. I look forward to the findings and recommendations of Judge Doran, Hank Greenberg and the new working group members in effectively and efficiently steering the New York State courts into the future.”

“The commission’s initial task was to help improve the efficiency and quality of justice services during the public health crisis and its aftermath. At first, it was triage: what can the courts do now and in the very near future to deal with the constantly shifting landscape of the pandemic? This new working group is part of the next wave, in which we reflect back on our actions since the pandemic’s onset, also thinking ahead, in preparing for future contingencies,” Greenberg said.

“The court system did not have the option of shutting down when the pandemic struck in March 2020. We had to pivot instantly, with no blueprint to guide us and no precedent to follow. Now, we have both the opportunity and obligation to look backward so that we may best move forward,” Doran said.

The group will conduct a thorough review of pandemic policies implemented by the New York State courts as well as other jurisdictions. It will hold its first public hearing on Tuesday, June 7,  at Court of Appeals Hall in Albany, seeking input from the bench, bar and community leaders. It will release a comprehensive report with its findings and recommendations.

For more information about the Pandemic Practices Working Group or to provide testimony at the June 7th public hearing, email: [email protected].

Further information about the commission and its work is available at: https://www.nycourts.gov/reimagine-the-future/mission.shtml

Pandemic Practices Working Group

Chair

Hon. Craig J. Doran, Supreme Court Justice, Seventh Judicial District

Members (in alphabetical order)

Hon. Tamiko Amaker, deputy chief administrative judge for management support, Office of Court Administration

Nancy J. Barry, chief of operations, Office of Court Administration

Mark A. Berman, partner, Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer

Jessica Cherry, assistant deputy counsel, Office of Court Administration

Michael DeVito, manager, Office of Record Production, Office of Court Administration

Hank M. Greenberg, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig

Hon. Craig Hannah, supervising judge, Buffalo City Court

Adrienne Holder, attorney in charge-Civil Practice, The Legal Aid Society of NYC

Seymour W. James Jr., partner, Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco and past president of the New York State Bar Association

Melinda Katz, district attorney, Queens County

Porter Kirkwood, district executive, Sixth Judicial District

Roger Juan Maldonado, partner, Smith Gambrell & Russell

Mary McQueen, president, National Center for State Courts

Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson, deputy chief administrative judge for justice initiatives, Office of Court Administration

Lillian M. Moy, executive director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York

Hon. James P. Murphy, administrative judge, Fifth Judicial District

Carolyn G. Nussbaum, partner, Nixon Peabody

Lauren Sang-Hee Owens, associate, Dreyer Boyajian

Shannon Pero, justice, Town of Greece

Anthony R. Perri, deputy counsel, Office of Court Administration

Lisa Preston, chief clerk, Monroe County Supreme and County Courts

Hon. Stan L. Pritzker, associate justice, Appellate Division, Third Department

Scott B. Reents, lead attorney, Data Analytics and E-Discovery, Cravath, Swaine & Moore

William C. Silverman, partner, Proskauer Rose

Christine Sisario, chief of technology, Office of Court Administration

David Slayton, vice president, Court Consulting, National Center for State Courts

Edward A. Steinberg, partner, Leav & Steinberg

Mike Williams, chief clerk, Suffolk County Family Court

Oliver Young, counsel, Barclay Damon

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