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New York State Unified Court System Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, Announces Next Steps In Transition to Virtual Court Proceedings That Take Effect Monday, May 4, 2020

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  • Posted on: May 1 2020

On April 24, 2020, this BLOG detailed the substance of Chief Judge DiFiore’s April 20, 2020 weekly on-line video message in which the Chief Judge stressed the strong desire that the New York Court System move to more “normal” operations.  Consistent with the Chief Justice’s goals, Chief Administrative Judge Marks issued a memorandum yesterday further outlining the Court System’s plans to move cases along.

In the memorandum, Chief Judge Marks recounted how “the Unified Court System has been increasingly active and productive since we transitioned to virtual court appearances….”  In this regard, the Chief Judge reported on the move to “deliberat[ly] and methodical[ly]” expand the virtual presence of New York’s courts.  The courts have moved from hearing only “essential” and “emergency” matters to hearing “non-essential” matters.  In a matter of weeks, trial judges have “conducted conferences or other court proceedings in over 25,000 cases [and] one-third of those cases have been settled or otherwise disposed.”  The memorandum notes that judges have been addressing and resolving “fully-submitted motions and other undecided matters,” recognizing that by eliminating backlogs the court system “will be in a far better position to absorb what promises to be a surge of new litigation once the court system returns to more normal operations.”

Against this backdrop, the memorandum outlines the next steps to “increase access to justice and expand judicial services.”  Chief Judge Marks explicitly noted that the latest steps “do not include the filing of new non-essential cases.”  Thus, the new steps, which take effect on Monday, May 4, 2020, will include:

1. Expanded motion practice.  Litigants in pending cases can now electronically file “new motions, responsive papers to previously filed motions, and other applications (including post-judgment applications).”  Such papers can be filed: through the NYSCEF system, where available; or, “through a new electronic document delivery system that that we have created for courts and jurisdictions where e-filing is unavailable” (the details of which “are available on the court system’s website and from your Administrative Judge”).

2. Problem-solving courts.  “Problem-solving courts may conduct virtual court conferences with counsel, court staff, and service providers, via skype for Business.”

3. ADR.  Referrals of matters by judges for alternative dispute resolution may resume.

4. Appeals.  Litigants can file notices of appeal electronically – whether through NYSCEF or through the new document delivery system discussed in the memorandum and herein.

This Blog will continue to address the steps the Court System is taking to return to normalcy.

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