New working group to examine New York state courts’ pandemic-related practices

May 5, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore on Thursday announced the formation of the Pandemic Practices Working Group, which will hold a series of public hearings around the state over the coming months to examine the court system’s response to COVID-19, consider post-pandemic procedures, and determine which policies should be kept at the ready if court operations are again interrupted due to an unforeseeable event. 

The working group is the latest offshoot of the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, a panel of judges, lawyers, academics and technology experts appointed by Judge DiFiore in 2020 to examine technological and other innovations and make recommendations to facilitate the delivery of justice services and keep up with society’s rapidly evolving changes. 

Since its inception, the Commission has issued several reports that include innovative proposals. 

The new Pandemic Practices Working Group, to be led by Supreme Court Justice Craig J. Doran of the Seventh Judicial District, will conduct a thorough review of pandemic policies implemented by the New York State courts as well as other jurisdictions. 

The working group will hold its first public hearing on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at Court of Appeals Hall in Albany, eliciting input from the bench and bar, community leaders and others. Based on its research and the input from the public hearings, the group will release a comprehensive report with its findings and recommendations. 

“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,” said Chief Judge DiFiore. “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,” said Greenberg. 

“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,” said Judge Doran. 

For more information about the Pandemic Practices Working Group/to request an opportunity to provide testimony at the June 7 public hearing, please email: [email protected]

Further information about the Commission and its work is available here

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