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New York StateUnified Court System

TO ALL ATTORNEYS AND PARTIES IN LITIGATION BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE COURTS


Expansion of E-filing in 14 Downstate Counties, Including the City of New York

Commencing on Monday, May 25, 2020, electronic filing through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF) – including the commencement of new matters – will be available in those 14 downstate counties which currently have not been included in stage one of the State’s regional reopening plan – including the Mid-Hudson region (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties), New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, New York, Queens, and Richmond), and Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk).   Following commencement, filing and service in such matters by represented parties (other than service of commencement documents) must be by electronic means through NYSCEF – mail or in-person filings will not be accepted.  Unrepresented parties must file, serve and must be served in such matters by non-electronic means unless they expressly “opt in” to participate in the matter electronically.” More information about e-filing may be found at:
https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/HomePage

n.b.:   Four Surrogate’s Courts in New York City (New York, Kings, Bronx, and Richmond Counties) have authorized electronic filing commencing June 1, 2020.  These courts will not accept NYSCEF filings prior to that date.

n.b.:  The calendaring of Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) proceedings in Nassau and Suffolk Counties shall be addressed at such time as the Long Island region reaches stage one of the State’s reopening plan.

 


 

Expansion of Operations in All Courthouses in 48 Upstate Counties

Consistent with Governor Cuomo’s plan for a phased reopening or public and private business in New York State, on May 18, 2020, the Unified Court System expanded operations in courthouses in three upstate regions that had satisfied various public health standards relating to the COVID-19 pandemic:  the Finger Lakes (including Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties), the Southern Tier (Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins County), and the Mohawk Valley (including Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie Counties).

On May 20, 2020, UCS further expanded operations in an additional two regions: the North Country (Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, and Essex) and Central NY (Oswego, Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, and Madison).

On May 21, 2020, UCS expanded in-courthouse operations in the Western New York region (Western New York:  Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties).

Finally, on May 26, 2020, UCS will expand in-courthouse operations in the Capital Region (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington Counties).

In the first phase of this expansion, judges, chambers staff, and some additional personnel will return to each courthouse (including City Court courthouses) to expand in-court operations in a manner consistent with current health protocols – wearing masks and gloves, continuing to implement social distancing, and taking other appropriate precautions.  In addition, courts in these 48 counties will continue to be open to limited personal appearances by public visitors – principally for the filing of emergency applications and papers in essential matters.  However, out of continued concern for public and court staff health and safety, the UCS will continue to limit foot traffic in its courthouses wherever possible.

Several features of this expansion of operations are especially notable: 

Commencement of New Matters in 48 Counties:  By Executive Orders AO/111/20 and AO/114/20, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K, Marks authorized the commencement of new civil matters in the 48 counties in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Central, Western, and Capital regions. 

NYSCEF:  To the extent that electronic filing (consensual or mandatory) through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF) is authorized in courts and case types in these 48 counties, these cases must be commenced as or converted to NYSCEF e-filed matters in order to proceed at this time.  Following such commencement or conversion, represented parties must file and serve documents (other than service of commencement documents) by electronic means through NYSCEF or, where permitted under e-filing rules, by mail.  Unrepresented parties must file, serve and must be served in such matters by non-electronic means unless they expressly “opt in” to participate in the matter
electronically.” For more information about e-filing, please contact the NYSCEF Resource Center at   contact resource center at efile@nycourts.gov .

Mail/EDDS:  To the extent that NYSCEF electronic filing is unavailable in courts or case types in these 48 counties, new matters must be commenced by mail.  In pending matters, and in new matters following commencement, documents must be submitted for filing either through the Unified Court System’s Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS) or by mail (but not by personal delivery).  More information about EDDS can be found at https://iappscontent.courts.state.ny.us/NYSCEF/live/edds.htm Service (other than service of commencement documents) must be by electronic means or by mail.   However, unrepresented parties may file, serve and be served by non-electronic means. 

Virtual Court Proceeding:.  Virtual court proceedings -- in which judges, other court personnel, counsel and parties attend audio-visual conferences through Skype for Business -- will continue throughout New York State as in recent weeks, including in these 48 counties.

Daytime Arraignments of Town and Village Proceedings:  Daytime town and village court arraignments will continue to take place at a centralized court location as in recent weeks, including in these 48 upstate counties.

Exceptions:  Foreclosure and eviction matters continue to be unavailable for filing at this time. 
These are critical steps in the Court System’s return to full in-court operations, in a manner that continues to assure the greatest possible protection of the health and safety of the public and our court personnel.   It is anticipated that in-court operations will continue to expand in coming weeks.

 


 

Administrative Order AO/87/20:  Further Expansion of Operations to Include Filing of New Motions, Stipulations, Notes of Issue and Notices of Appeal in Pending Matters; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Conferences in Problem-Solving Courts; and the Electronic Document Delivery System  (effective May 4, 2020)

On May 1, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued Administrative Order AO/87/20, providing for the further expansion of virtual court operations, effective Monday, May 4, 2020, as follows:

In pending matters (both essential and non-essential), courts will

  1. accept filings of new motions and applications, and additional filings in pending motions;
  2. accept filings of stipulations of all kinds, notes of issue, and notices of appeal;
  3. refer matters to alternative dispute resolution before neutrals on court-established panels, community dispute resolution centers, and ADR-dedicated UCS court staff; and
  4. conduct virtual court conferences in problem-solving courts with counsel, court staff, service providers, and, where practicable, clients

The goal of this expansion is to allow judges to resolve a broader range of pending matters through the virtual court model.

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

We anticipate further expansion of virtual operations in the weeks to come.

EDDS
As of May 4, 2020, the Unified Court System implemented the Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS), for delivery and filing of documents in place of paper filings in courts throughout the Unified Court System during the COVID-19 public health emergency.   

 


Administrative Order: “Virtual Courts” and Expanded Activity in Certain Pending Nonessential Matters (effective April 13, 2020)

Virtual Courts

As of April 6, 2020, the Unified Court System implemented a “virtual court” model in all trial courts in each of New York State’s 62 counties to address essential court matters (as defined in AO/78/20). In this virtual court system, legal matters are handled by remote appearances of judges, attorneys, and most nonjudicial staff, through audiovisual appearances, telephone communications, and digitized exchanges of papers. This model has allowed court operations to continue in a manner that minimizes courthouse traffic and maximizes the health and safety of court users and court personnel during the coronavirus public health emergency.

Expanded Operations to “Nonessential” Matters (effective April 13, 2020)

On April 8, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued Administrative Order AO/85/20, providing for the expansion of virtual court operations and remote access to additional, nonessential court matters, effective Monday, April 13, 2020, as follows:

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.

The goal of this expansion is to allow judges to advance the resolution of pending matters wherever practicable. The restraints and limitations upon court activity set forth below will continue.

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

We anticipate further expansion of virtual operations in the weeks to come.

 


 

Administrative Order: Limiting Court Filings (effective March 22, 2020)

On March 22, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued administrative order AO/78/20, which sharply curtailed the receipt of filed papers by UCS courts and county clerks in litigation matters. The order applies to both paper and electronic filings, and extends to all trial courts.

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. 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.

Section E of the list of essential proceedings includes “any other matter that the court deems essential.” 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 systemwide action, it will be addressed in the future.

Questions about this policy may be addressed to 833-503-0447, and will be answered through updates on this webpage.

Thank you for your ongoing cooperation as we implement these new restrictions.

 

 

"The New York State Court System provides essential justice services to the people of the State of New York. While we continue to remain open all nonessential functions of the courts will be postponed. All essential functions of the courts remain available to ensure that New Yorkers may access the justice system during this extremely challenging time."
- Chief Judge DiFiore

If you have specific questions about your juror service, a case already in court, or you need to start a court case, call: the Coronavirus Telephone Hotline: 833-503-0447.

Juror Service:
If you have been summoned for juror service or are serving on a jury, please see the notice from the Commissioner of Jurors regarding coronavirus and the flu.