Virtual Court May Be the New Normal in New York City, At Least For Now
Although New York City’s state court judges are now back in their chambers, in-person hearings have not yet commenced.
Administrative Judge Deborah A. Kaplan reported that her division has had success using “video-linked ‘virtual’ hearings for a wide range of matters.”[i] In-person hearings will still be available when truly necessary. For example, this option may be available to self-represented litigants without access to the requisite technology.
On June 17, 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced the appointment of a new commission, the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, charged with “examining the enhanced use of technology and online platforms,” as the courts consider next steps for resuming in-person operations.[ii] In describing this initiative, Chief Judge DiFiore said: “The pandemic’s dramatic impact on court operations has paved the way for the embrace of new technologies and approaches, with a focus on fairness, efficiency and efficacy.”[iii]
While we await the Commission’s “blueprint for the court system of tomorrow,”[iv] litigants appearing before New York City’s state court judges should not expect in-person appearances at 60 Centre Street in the immediate future.
[i] Frank G. Runyeon, As NYC’s Courthouses Reopen, Virtual Court Will Remain, Law360, June 10, 2020, https://www.law360.com/articles/1281902/as-nyc-s-courthouses-reopen-virtual-court-will-remain
[ii] Press Release, New York State Unified Court System, Chief Judge DiFiore Names Commission to Develop Comprehensive Vision for the Court System of the Future (June 17, 2020), https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/pdfs/PR20_28.pdf