Governor’s Executive and Chief Administrative Judge’s Orders Related to Practice In (Spite of) A Coronavirus Environment

We hope that your loved ones and you are safe and healthy.  As we safely move forward in the current Covid-19 environment, Russo & Toner remains fully available to you and dedicated to meeting the needs of our clients.  We have been staying abreast and monitoring Executive and Administrative Orders which are specific to the practice of law in New York State during these times.  We have been able to move cases forward by participating in virtual conferences, depositions and hearings using Skype and Zoom.

 

Please find below a summary of the essential elements of the Executive and Administrative Orders to date - in a chronological format - which define current procedures for handling litigated matters pending in the State of New York.  Please note that there is still a prohibition on filing new “nonessential” cases .

 

We hope you find this information useful.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of any assistance. As always, we are here for you.

 

Governor’s Executive and Chief Administrative Judge’s  Orders Related to Practice In (Spite of) A Coronavirus Environment

 

3/20/20: Governor’s Executive Order 202.8: In accordance with the directive of the Chief Judge of the State to limit court operations to essential matters during the pendency of the COVID-19 health crisis, any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state, including but not limited to the criminal procedure law, the family court act, the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, the surrogate's court procedure act, and the uniform court acts, or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled from the date of this executive order until April 19, 2020.

 

3/22/20 Administrative Order AO/78/20  - Limiting Court Filings (effective 4/6/20): In light of the public health concerns of the coronavirus, and consistent with the Governor’s recent Executive Order suspending statutes of limitations in legal matters until further notice, the courts will only accept filings in matters deemed to be “essential.”  A list of essential matters is attached to the Chief Administrative Judge’s Administrative Order. Essential Proceedings Administrative Order AO/78/20 March 22, 2020.  In summary, they are: 1. Criminal matters; 2. Family Court matters; 3. Supreme Court Matters involving Mental Hygiene Law, guardianship, orders of protection, emergency applications related to the coronavirus, emergency Election Law applications, and extreme risk protection orders; 4. Civil/Housing matters involving landlord lockouts, serious code violations, serious repair orders, and; applications for post-eviction relief; 5.  any other matter that the court deems essential. This list is subject to amendment in the future.  In addition to the case types specified on the list, judges may deem any individual matter to be “essential” as circumstances require.  Consistent with the goal of the administrative order to limit new filings, this catch-all provision is designed to address the very rare cases where individual facts necessitate an immediate hearing notwithstanding current public health concerns; it will be interpreted restrictively.  Persons who believe that a specific pending or new matter should be included in this highly restrictive group should apply to the court for this designation by emergency application by order to show cause, including a detailed explanation of the applicant’s rationale.

 

 Please note, the Administrative Order:

 

      •  Addresses legal papers relating to litigation matters filed with UCS courts. It does not address filings with the County Clerk acting other than as a clerk of court – including matters set forth in CPLR §8021;

 

    •  Addresses only the filing of documents and does not address service of process. It is anticipated that, in light of the filing prohibition and the Governor’s extension of statutes of limitation, service of (unfiled) process should and will be suspended by parties in non-essential matters. However, if service of process continues, especially in a manner that confuses participants, it may be addressed in a follow-up administrative directive;

 

   • Does not address discovery in pending matters, which remains governed by a prior administrative order and continues to rely on agreement of the parties to the fullest extent possible. In the event that discovery conduct requires further system-wide action, it will be addressed in the future.

 

4/8/20 Administrative Order AO/85/20: “Virtual Courts” and Expanded Activity in certain pending nonessential matters (Effective 4/13/20): Expanded Operations to “Nonessential” Matters.  In pending nonessential matters, courts will: 

 

(1) review case inventories and schedule telephonic and audiovisual conferences with attorneys and others where such conferences will facilitate resolution of disputed issues or the case as a whole. Audiovisual conferences will be handled exclusively through Skype for Business technology. Conferences may also be scheduled by the court at the request of parties;

 

(2) address outstanding, fully submitted motions; and

 

(3) be available during normal business hours to address ad hoc oral applications by telephone or Skype.

 

Important: The existing prohibition on the filing of new, nonessential matters, or filing of papers by parties in pending nonessential matters, will continue.

 

Please note that the Governor’s Executive Orders numbered 202.9 (issued 3/21/20) through 202.26 (issued 5/1/20) have nothing to do with the CPLR or the filing of new actions or documents with the courts.  They deal mostly with the Department of Health, and the laws governing education, election, real property tax, and domestic relations.

 

 5/1/20 Administrative Order AO/87/20: In pending matters (both essential and non-essential), courts will:

  •  accept filings of new motions and applications, and additional filings in pending motions;

  • accept filings of stipulations of all kinds, notes of issue, and notices of appeal;

  • refer matters to alternative dispute resolution before neutrals on court-established panels, community dispute resolution centers, and ADR-dedicated UCS court staff; and

  • conduct virtual court conferences in problem-solving courts with counsel, court staff, service providers, and, where practicable, clients.

Important: The existing prohibition on the filing of new, nonessential matters will continue.

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