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New York State Courts

On March 20, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order tolling time limits for (among other things) commencement of actions, deadlines for motions, and deadlines for appellate filings.  These deadlines have since been extended to June 6, 2020. 

Shortly thereafter, on March 22, New York’s Chief Administrative Judge promulgated an Order stating that courts would no longer accept filings unless they related to “essential matters.”  Civil/commercial matters are generally not “essential.”  Thus, we were unable to commence new litigations, or file any documents, for these types of cases.  The courts similarly cancelled or adjourned nearly all appearances, including arguments, discovery conferences, and trials. 

In mid-April, New York state courts began rescheduling some of these appearances for telephonic or video conferences, and also began processing and decided motions that had been fully briefed and submitted to the court. 

On May 4, New York courts reopened for attorneys to electronically file documents in pending “non-essential” matters.  On May 25, New York courts expanded the reopening by resuming accepting filings of new “non-essential” matters for new cases where the represented parties file and serve papers electronically. 

In mid-May, New York counties outside of New York City began the process of resuming in-person activities, including the return of judges, chambers’ staff, and back office personnel.  Among other safety measures, non-employee visitors are required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouses.  On May 29, the court announced that “[t]he last of our Courts outside of New York City resumed in-person operations today as Judges, chambers staff, support personnel and Court Officers returned to their posts.”  For now, attorney appearances are still primarily virtual/telephonic.

On May 8, the Appellate Division, First Department (which covers NYC) rescinded its previous order suspending deadlines for perfecting appeals and other filings.  Deadlines for the remaining Terms in 2020 (September through December) have been reinstated.  The other three Departments of the Appellate Division have also rescinded their previous orders suspending filings.  Filings are now permitted, with adjusted deadlines.

New York Federal Courts

New York Federal Courts remain closed to visitors in most circumstances.  In the SDNY, civil operations “will proceed at the discretion of the Individual Judge” and “[i]n-person appearances will be limited strictly to Emergency maters, and even those should be conducted by teleconference or . . . videoconference.”  The emergency civil part in the SDNY is operating at reduced hours.  The conduct of jury trials in the SDNY has been suspended until further notice.

Similarly, in the EDNY, “[i]ndividual judges presiding over civil . . . proceedings may take such actions . . . as may be lawful and appropriate to ensure the fairness of the proceedings and preserve the rights of the parties.”  All jury selections scheduled to commence by June 15, 2020 have been continued until further notice.

In both the SDNY and EDNY, individual judges are permitted “to hold hearings, conferences, and bench trials in the exercise of their discretion” though they “are strongly encouraged to conduct court proceedings by telephone or video conferencing where practicable.”  In the EDNY, judges are also encouraged to “adjourn matters or deadlines, or stay litigation, where in-person meetings, interviews, depositions, or travel would be necessary to prepare for any such proceedings.”

In the WDNY and NDNY, all civil jury trials have been continued until June 15, 2020.  The courts are continuing to consider motions that do not require oral argument or in-person appearances. 

In the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, appellate and motion calendars are being argued as scheduled, though exclusively by teleconference.

Electronic filings on PACER are still permitted in New York’s federal courts, and parties can commence new actions. 

Delaware Courts

Pursuant to a March 22 Administrative Order, deadlines in Delaware court rules, or those arising from state or local statutes, were tolled.  This Order has been extended through July 1, 2020.  Court-imposed deadlines otherwise remain in place, “but may be extended, consistent with court practices, for good cause shown, including a COVID-19 related cause.”

Non-emergency and non-essential telephonic arguments, telephonic hearings, or videoconferences shall proceed at the discretion of each of the Delaware state courts.

The Delaware Chancery Court has issued Standing Orders stating that “all hearings and trials shall be conducted only by telephonic or other electronic means” though parties can request in-person hearings in the event of an “exigent need.”

Filings are still permitted in Delaware courts.

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