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NY’s virtual courts now accepting non-emergency pending matters

New filings still not accepted as the court evaluates future plans

April 15, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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After weeks of only hearing arraignments, bail applications, orders of protection and select “essential” matters, the New York State Court System has officially opened up to non-essential, non-emergency pending cases.

On Monday, the courts opened back up for pending cases that involve torts, asbestos, commercial, matrimonial, trust and estates, felony, family and a few other cases.

The court is still not accepting filings on new “non-essential” matters.

“Thanks to the adept leadership of our administrators and staff — in particular, the herculean efforts of our highly skilled technology team — and the collaboration of our justice partners, the New York State court system, within just two weeks, has successfully implemented a virtual framework for handling all essential and emergency matters,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a statement on Monday.

“Building on this framework, we can now begin to focus on the rest of our caseload, enabling judges and non-judicial employees across the state, who are anxious to get back to work and do their part, to be active and serve the public in this time of great need,” she continued.

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks. Photo: Andy Katz/Brooklyn Eagle

Per Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, judges will begin remotely scheduling and conducting conferences and hearings to address discovery disputes and other outstanding issues so they can advance pending civil and criminal cases that fall outside the scope of what is deemed essential or emergency.

“These are preliminary — but significant — steps forward as we strive, in these challenging times, to carry on the vitally important business of the courts,” Hon. Marks said.

The court has asked judges to review their case inventories to look for ways to best move pending matters forward. They’re currently hearing matters via video conferencing or over the phones while only a small number of court clerks and court officers are working in courtrooms.

“We are immensely grateful to these dedicated court employees who continue to report to work so that our courts can deliver justice at this critical time,” DiFiore and Marks said in a joint statement.

DiFiore and Marks said that they will continue to evaluate the situation as it develops to look for ways to continue to restore the court system to its full capacity.

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