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COVID-19 Court Accessibility
New York State Courts
On March 20, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order stating that time limits have been tolled until April 17 for (among other things) commencement of actions, deadlines for motions and deadlines for appellate filings.
In light of that executive order, on March 22 New York’s Chief Administrative Judge promulgated an order stating that courts will no longer accept filings unless they relate to “essential matters.” Civil/commercial matters are generally not “essential.”
On March 26, New York's Chief Administrative Judge promulgated another order reiterating this. What this means is that new litigations cannot be commenced unless the complaint relates to an "essential matter" as defined in the order. Likewise, no motions in existing cases will be able to filed unless the motion relates to an essential matter. The order gives the courts flexibility to decide whether matters other than those listed are essential. Thus, cases/motions involving emergency situations, where accompanied by an attorney affirmation explaining the exigent circumstances, should be able to be filed.
New York courts have canceled or adjourned nearly all appearances, including arguments, discovery conferences and trials. Some of these have been, or will be, rescheduled for telephonic or video conferences. Courts will prioritize applications for emergency relief (such as those for temporary restraining orders) for such conferences.
For the Appellate Division (all Departments), subject to limited exceptions, filings and deadlines are suspended indefinitely. In addition, based on Governor Cuomo's March 20 executive order, electronic filings in the Appellate Division are prohibited. Appeals for the April term and later are generally being adjourned. For appeals that have not been adjourned, there are no oral arguments. In the First and Second Departments, however, parties may request argument, in which case argument will be via video or telephone conference.
Federal courts situated in New York are essentially closed to visitors. 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 matters, and even those should be conducted by teleconference or . . . videoconference.” The emergency civil part in the SDNY is operating at reduced hours during the week, and not at all during weekends.
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 civil trials in the SDNY and EDNY scheduled to begin before April 27, 2020 have been continued pending further order of the applicable court. 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, all civil jury trials are continued for 60 days. With regard to civil proceedings generally, “judges are encouraged to reduce personal appearances as much as practicable.”
For the NDNY, all jury trials scheduled to commence by April 30, 2020 are indefinitely continued.
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 federal courts in New York, and parties can commence new actions.
Pursuant to a March 22 administrative order, deadlines in Delaware court rules, or those arising from state or local statutes, that would expire between March 23 and April 15 have been tolled through April 21. 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 a standing order stating that “all hearings and trials shall be conducted only by telephonic or other electronic means.”
Filings are still permitted in Delaware courts.