Over the past few months, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has been affecting nearly every aspect of daily life, including the legal system. There is now a distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” court functions, while social distancing protocols have changed the way that judges, attorneys, and clients interact with each other.
Here is an update about how COVID-19 is impacting court cases in New York so that you can be prepared to protect your legal rights.
Essential and Nonessential Court Functions
It is important to know that New York state courts are still open for essential business so that New Yorkers can still access the justice system during this era of COVID-19. But according to Chief Judge DiFiore all nonessential functions of the courts are being postponed or slowly beginning to start with a low volume of case.
Examples of essential functions include guardianships, temporary restraining orders, and emergency forms of relief. Other issues that have continued to move forward in the legal system due to essential applications include landlord lockouts, repair orders, code violations, and other housing matters. Criminal court matters, family court matters that involve child safety, mental health matters in supreme court, and emergency guardianships are also considered essential under the current protocols in New York.
Pending and New Cases
The pace of litigation has slowed down in New York and across the country. All jury trials are now stopped and no date for future jury trials have been announced.
Because of the current pandemic, New York courts recognize that documents may be less accessible and witnesses less available right now. Travel restrictions may make it difficult for attorneys to access the documents they need, especially if those documents are located in another country. Witnesses are also generally less able to travel, which is adding to the ongoing delays in the court system.
Filings and Deadlines
Due to COVID-19, some filing deadlines have been suspended until further notice. Aside from emergency applications, some appellate courts have not been hearing new motions. Meanwhile, other courts have extended deadlines by a few weeks to minimize pandemic-related disruptions. Attorneys had not been aloud to fill any new lawsuits since the beginning of the pandemic. New lawsuits can be filled statewide starting May 25, 2020.
Virtual Courtrooms for Nonessential Matters
But while recent in-person court appearances and oral arguments have been cancelled or conducted by teleconference over the past couple months, virtual courtrooms are providing alternative ways to move court cases through the legal system.
Videoconferencing is now more important than ever before for depositions, notarizations, and various discovery procedures. Courts in New York have been allowing witnesses to be interviewed and client meetings to take place via videoconferencing as well. Court staff members are assisting judges in the use of Skype and other virtual platforms to access records, hold conferences, and conduct other legal functions. Both judges and attorneys are working remotely, with only a very small number of officers continuing to work in physical courthouse locations to process paperwork and provide security.
The Commissioner of Jurors in New York issued a notice that individuals summoned for jury duty for a new case should not appear at the courthouse because of jury service suspensions. No jury trial are preceding for the near future.
Get Help with Your Personal Injury Case in New York
This is a complex and confusing time, but the Law Office is Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum is still here to help you with your Brooklyn personal injury case. We are happy to communicate with you by phone or message for a free consultation so that you can maintain your social distancing and not let your potential case’s statue of limitations expire. You still must act quickly to protect your rights.
The current protocols and restrictions vary from one New York court to another, and they are changing frequently based on the government response to the pandemic. Therefore, it is in your best interest to work with a local lawyer who understands how COVID-19 is affecting the New York court system and how your case will be impacted.
Our legal team is experienced in recovering maximum money awards and settlements for the injured, so don’t wait until pandemic restrictions are over to pursue your case. Contact us today 718-237-5586 to get the legal process started now.