New York to Open Virtual Courts for Ongoing Non-Essential Cases



    Due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus in New York, courts throughout the state closed their doors in an attempt to help decrease exposure. However, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced that on April 13, the statewide court system will “take certain preliminary steps to open up access – remote access – to the courts for nonessential pending cases.” This will be accomplished by having judges find ways to push forward or resolve cases through video-linked hearing or teleconferences. 

    It is important to know that there is still a ban on new lawsuits. While this is true, cases that are in progress will proceed, including plea hearings for felony matters. On the matter, Judge Marks stated, “Now that we have successfully transitioned to a virtual court system for handling essential matters, we are turning our attention to nonessential matters, which make up the vast bulk of trial court caseloads.”

    In addition to this, judges are being directed to schedule conferences to address “discovery disputes” and other concerns through Skype or teleconferences with clerks and judges remotely. Courts in New York City and other suburban counties with high-volume calendars are beginning to find opportunities in their schedules to move these cases along, according to Judge Marks. He also nodded towards an expansion of virtual courtrooms in saying that the weeks ahead will see more plans regarding non-essential matters.

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