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Sketches of Court: Judge Rivera presides over virtual motion calendar

February 9, 2022 Alba Acevedo
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In this virtual courtroom sketch, Hon. Francois A. Rivera listens to oral arguments on motions as he conducts proceedings in the judge’s chambers by means of videoconferencing.

In response to disruptions to in-person gatherings because of COVID, Judge Rivera has chosen to replace the formerly crowded weekly courtroom scenario with a setup that still allows the judge to efficiently dispatch a full motion calendar. This considered setup includes two screens to allow for the ability to take the appearance of movants and opponents (right screen), while simultaneously summoning related NYSCEF documents (left screen) for each case. NYSCEF refers to the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System.

Michelle Lemmonds, secretary to Judge Rivera, directs the parties in advance of their attendance date via email notification of their matter’s order of appearance and the session (morning or afternoon), and supplies them with the link to participate via Microsoft Teams software. The motions are conducted before everyone, though participants are asked to mute until Lemmonds prompts the individual cases. Judge Rivera’s court attorney, Betsey Jean-Jacques, appears in a tiled screen throughout the proceedings, and can respond to the judge’s requests, i.e., to place a citation in the chatroom for the benefit of a participant drafting an order. Also in attendance is a court reporter, as motions are taken on the record.

Although occasionally visited by brief technical glitches, it is anticipated that Judge Rivera will continue to conduct most court procedures virtually, until such time as otherwise dictated. Judge Rivera was able to grant, deny, adjourn or otherwise resolve half the day’s motions in half a day, last week in Part 52 of Kings County Supreme Civil Term.

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