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New York Courts Expand Virtual Operations Amid COVID-19 Emergency


May 4, 2020 - Update: On May 4, 2020 Chief Administrative Judge Marks promulgated an order that codifies the new policies delineated in his memorandum of April 30, 2020 and discussed in the below “Update” of May 1, 2020.

May 1, 2020 - Update: Chief Administrative Judge Marks has issued a memorandum which explains that as of Monday, May 4, 2020, parties in pending cases in the New York court system will be able to electronically file new motions, responsive papers to previously filed motions, and other applications.  Additionally, Judge Marks’ memorandum explains that parties may file notices of appeal electronically and that judges can resume referring matters for alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including to neutrals on court-established panels.  This development, accompanied with the court system’s embrace of virtual court conferences, should help start the transition toward the re-opening of court operations in New York’s Commercial Division.

As a further update to our earlier posts about COVID-19’s effect on the Commercial Division, the New York court system has expanded its virtual operations to include proceedings in nonessential matters, including pending commercial, trust and estates and tort cases, among others.  Parties in such cases may now request that courts hold remote conferences by emailing a completed Conference Request Form to [email protected]  Such conferences are typically being held by Skype. The ban on filing new nonessential matters, however, remains in effect until further notice.

The Supreme Court, New York County-Civil Term has also created a Remote Conference Part (or “RCP”), which now schedules remote settlement conferences for cases that had previously been scheduled in the Administrative Coordinating Part (Part 40), the Judicial Mediation Part (J-Med), and the Early Settlement Parts.  Parties who are selected for conferences in an RCP will receive a notice through NYSCEF notifying them that their case has been selected and asking that the relevant attorneys notify the Trial Support Office of their availability.  Cases will then be scheduled for Skype or telephonic conferences before one of the judges who has volunteered to conference such cases.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore recently reported that in the first week of the court system’s expanded virtual operations, more than 2,600 cases were disposed of or settled.  In addition, the court system issued more than 1,400 written decisions on motions and other undecided matters during this period.

A chart that outlines the best remote contacts for many of the New York Commercial Divisions as of April 17, 2020 can be found below.

The Appellate Division, First Department, has also expanded its virtual operations and has resumed calendaring appeals and motions, scheduling pre-argument conferences, and admitting attorneys to the bar.  In addition, the First Department has issued an order providing for two special terms: one in May, commencing on May 4, 2020 and ending on May 29, 2020, and one in June, commencing on June 1, 2020 and ending on June 26, 2020.  Cases for the May Special Term will be calendared for each Wednesday and Thursday, and all calendared matters will be heard on submission or orally argued via Skype.

By Jacqueline Lash, Muhammad U. Faridi, and Stephen P. Younger