State Court System Prepares for Possible 2nd Wave

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

In her weekly coronavirus update, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said today that the state court system is prepared to make immediate adjustments and to scale back or suspend jury trials and in-person proceedings on a moment’s notice in case a second wave of coronavirus hits the state.

“…[E]ven though we are pleased to be conducting jury trials again, we’re keeping a very close eye on the daily COVID metrics all across the state,” said DiFiore. “We will be cautious and deliberate in deciding where and when to schedule future jury trials… Our number one priority is the health and safety of our court family – the jurors, the lawyers and litigants who enter our courts – and the public we serve. We will continue to make smart, responsible, nimble decisions that protect everyone’s health and safety.”

DiFiore said the court system is continuing to look for ways to enhance its virtual operations. Late last month, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued an administrative order authorizing e-filing of civil cases in the Supreme Court in seven additional upstate counties as well as the Broome County Surrogate’s Court.

As a result, by Nov. 18, e-filing will be available in the Supreme Court in 60 of the state’s 62 counties and in Surrogate’s Court in 47 counties. The court system also remains committed to extending e-filing to all of the remaining counties in the near future.

DiFiore also noted that less than a month ago, the state court system completed its expansion of e-filing to all five boroughs of the New York City Housing Court and that its e-filing program for actions transferred from the Supreme Court to the New York City Civil Court will soon be expanded citywide when Kings County comes on board next Monday, followed by Bronx and Richmond counties on Dec. 7.

Jury Trial Update

DiFiore said that after week one of criminal jury trials in New York City, four of the five trials are still ongoing – two in New York County and two in Kings County, one of which is now a bench trial after the defendant waived his right to a jury trial. In Richmond County, no trial has gone forward yet but 18 pleas have been taken on felony cases.

“I’m pleased to report that these trials have proceeded safely and smoothly to date,” said DiFiore. “We have received positive feedback regarding our preparation and safety protocols, including a note from one of the district attorneys commending the effectiveness of court operations and expressing the hope that there will be more trials in the coming weeks.”

This week criminal jury trials will resume in Queens and Bronx counties.

After two weeks of civil jury trials, eight cases have been tried to verdict and seven others have settled, according to DiFiore.

COVID-19 Webinars

Thursday, Nov. 5 – Non-Payment of Commercial Rent: Proceedings, Defenses and Workouts.

Friday, Nov. 6 – Evidence: Introduction of Exhibits – NYSBA Trial Academy Virtual Conference.

Tuesday, Nov. 10 – Planning for Disability Testing Accommodations During a 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.

NYSBA has announced its pro bono champions of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of National Pro Bono Month, NYSBA honored three outstanding volunteers at its Virtual Pro Bono Awards event last week.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, NYSBA will present a virtual CLE webinar that looks at all the legal issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, including the perspective of the Mayor’s Office. It is free for NYSBA members and $150 for non-members.

On the latest Gold/Fox: Non-Billable podcast, Hank Greenberg, NYSBA’s immediate past president, discusses leadership during a global pandemic and technology’s role in a post-coronavirus world.

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