Andrew M. Dean

Andrew M. Dean

  585.231.1183

  adean@hselaw.com

LEGALcurrents®

The coronavirus arrived in New York State on approximately March 1, 2020, and as of this writing—March 27, 2020—the number of confirmed cases has grown to more than 37,000.  Reports indicate that New York now accounts for 5% of coronavirus cases globally, exceeding the number of infections of entire countries, including France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. 

As we know, the coronavirus is highly contagious and the only proven way to slow its growth has been to practice “social distancing,” meaning limiting physical contact between persons.  In the past three weeks, officials of every level—and particularly New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—have taken bold steps to enforce social distancing.  These efforts have manifested in the statewide closure of businesses to interpersonal enterprise (except for essential businesses), meaning that most employers, restaurants, and service providers must operate on a “work from home,” “take-out-only,” and “remote” basis. 

The efforts of New York courts to contain the virus can only be described as “unprecedented.”  In a few short weeks, state courts have engaged in the most dramatic reduction of their operations in history.  They have confined operations to emergency matters and have even suspended deadlines applicable outside of the courtroom.  Federal courts have reduced their operations but have not acted as sweepingly as their state counterparts.

The purpose of this LEGALcurrents is to provide an up-to-date resource on the status of New York State and federal courts, focusing on civil litigation in those courts most relevant to Western New York.  This alert will be updated from time to time and may be expanded to include information on other parts of New York, as time permits.

STATE COURT STATUS

The New York State court system is vast, consisting of the New York Court of Appeals as the highest court, the Appellate Division (divided into four departments) as the court of intermediate appeals, the Supreme Court (divided into thirteen judicial districts) as the trial court of general jurisdiction, and ten additional trial courts of limited or special jurisdiction.  Despite this organizational complexity, the New York court system has proven to be exceedingly nimble, owing both to its composition as a unified court system, and to actions by Governor Cuomo, Chief Judge DiFiore, and Chief Administrative Judge Marks.

Statewide

Alert: Limited Court Filings, posted March 26, 2020

  • Summarizes Administrative Order 78 (see below), and reiterates that no papers shall be accepted for filing by the courts or county clerks in litigation matters, whether by electronic or paper filing means, except in essential matters. Clarifies that county clerks will accept other filings in their capacities other than as clerks of court.  Notes that pending discovery continues to be governed by a separate order, Administrative Order 71 (see below).

Administrative Order 78 of Chief Administrative Judge, dated March 22, 2020

  • Directs that until further order, no papers shall be accepted for filing (whether paper or electronic) in any non-essential case (defined in relevant part as applications for confinement, emergency election law applications, and similar applications).

New York State Executive Order No. 202.8, dated March 21, 2020

  • Tolls all statutes of limitations and all deadlines under New York law through April 19, 2020.

Administrative Order 71 of Chief Administrative Judge, dated March 19, 2020

  • Strongly discourages the prosecution of pending civil matters, including discovery, in a manner that requires in-person contact or travel.
  • Directs parties to use best efforts to postpone deadlines where unable to be met because of the coronavirus emergency, and if agreement cannot be reached, defers such proceeding until court review.

New York State Executive Order No. 202.7, dated March 19, 2020

  • Allows notarizations to be conducted by videoconference, subject to certain requirements.

Memorandum of the Chief Administrative Judge, dated March 15, 2020

  • Postpones all non-essential functions of the unified court system until further notice but allows pending trials to continue. In civil matters, defines “essential functions” to include emergency applications arising under the Mental Hygiene law, civil commitments, and guardianships.
  • Suspends all eviction proceedings and pending eviction orders indefinitely.

New York State Court of Appeals

Notice to the Bar, dated March 18, 2020

  • The Court has adjourned cases scheduled for oral argument in March 2020 to an unspecified, future date.
  • The Court will continue to accept submissions by mail and Court-PASS, but no filings will be accepted in person except without first calling the Clerk’s office at (518) 455-7700.

Appellate Division (note that each department suspended filing and perfection deadlines established by court order or rule, and that statutory deadlines have since been suspended by Executive Order 202.8).

  • First Department:

Notice, dated March 21, 2020: Transmits Governor’s executive order 202.8, which provides that “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 . . . the civil practice law and rules . . . or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled . . . until April 19, 2020.”

Emergency Procedures, dated March 17, 2020:  All matters calendared for March 17, 18, and 19, 2020 will be on submission only.  All matters calendared for March 24, 25, or 27, 2020 will be on submission, but attorneys may request oral argument by contacting the clerk.  April appeals will be re-calendared.  Hard copy filings no longer permitted.  Motions will not be heard and only emergency applications will be considered.   

Order, dated March 17, 2020:  Except for matters perfected for the May and June 2020 terms, all perfection, filing and other deadlines set by order or rule are suspended indefinitely, and all motions or applications for extensions pending March 17, 2020 are granted indefinitely.  The suspensions do not apply to statutory deadlines. 

  • Second Department:

Change in Scheduling Release Dates, dated March 25, 2020:  Appeal handdowns may be delayed going forward.

Administrative Order 2020-0317.2, dated March 17, 2020:  All perfection, filing, and other deadlines set by order of the Court of rule are suspended indefinitely.  All extension motions pending as of March 17, 2020 are adjourned pending further directive of the Court, and all other pending motions are adjourned until further directive of the Court.

Notice, undated:  The Court will be reducing operations and will entertain emergency applications only.

Notice, undated:  Until further notice, hard copy filings will not be permitted.

Noticed, dated March 13, 2020:  All matters calendared after March 17, 2020 will be on submission only, but oral argument will be allowed by Skype upon request.

  • Third Department:

Notice, undated: Transmits Governor’s executive order 202.8, which provides that “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 . . . civil practice law and rules . . . or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled . . . until April 19, 2020.”

Emergency Procedures, dated March 17, 2020:  All matters calendared for March term will be heard on submission only, and April term matters are adjourned and will be rescheduled.  The court will entertain emergency applications only. 

Order, dated March 17, 2020:  All perfection, filing, and other deadlines set by Court order, or rule, are suspended indefinitely and all extension motions pending as of March 17, 2020 are granted.  The extensions do not apply to deadlines conferred by statute. 

  • Fourth Department:

Memorandum of Bar Association of Erie County Commercial Litig. & Bankruptcy Committee, dated March 26, 2020: If parties wish to e-file a submission voluntarily they may do so, but any such e-filings will not be reviewed until the emergency passes. 

Notice to the Bar, dated March 21, 2020:  Pursuant to Governor’s executive order 202.8, “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 . . . the civil practice law and rules . . . or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled . . . until April 19, 2020.”

Notice Regarding Hard Copies, dated March 19, 2020:  Until further notice, hard copy filings will not be permitted.

Notice to Parties, dated March 19, 2020:  All matters scheduled for the May 2020 term have been adjourned and will be re-calendared for a later term. 

Emergency Procedure, updated March 19, 2020:  All matters calendared for the March/April 2020 term will be considered on submission only, without oral argument.  All matters currently scheduled for the May 2020 term are adjourned and will be re-calendared for a later term.  The court will upon request consider emergency applications or motions deemed urgent (see Fourth Department Website for more details).

Order, dated March 17, 2020:  In all matters pending before the Fourth Department as of March 17, 2020, all perfection, filing, and other deadlines set by an order of the Court or rule are suspended indefinitely, and all pending motions for extension of time to perfect or file as of March 17, 2020 are granted indefinitely, but this order does not apply where a deadline is conferred by statute. 

Select Judicial Districts

  • Seventh Judicial District (Monroe and neighboring counties),

Administrative Order, dated March 16, 2020 (as amended March 17, 2020 and March 23, 2020):   All trials that have commenced may proceed, the rest continued until a date after April 30, 2020.  All non-essential matters continued until a date on or after April 30, 2020All deadlines established per judicial directive (including those contained in scheduling orders, service dates and local rules) that occur during the pendency of the Administrative Order shall be extended for a period of 90 days from the date of the stated deadline, unless further application is made.

  • Eighth Judicial District (Erie and neighboring counties)

Press Release dated March 17, 2020: All trials that have commenced may proceed, the rest continued until a date after April 30, 2020.  All non-essential matters continued until a date after April 30, 2020

  • Third Judicial District (Albany and neighboring counties)

Administrative Order, dated March 16, 2020 (as amended March 19, 2020):  All civil trials that have commenced may continue.  All non-essential matters adjourned until a date after April 30, 2020.  All deadlines established by judicial directive (including those contained in scheduling orders, service dates, and local rules) that occur during the pendency of the Administrative order shall be extended for 90 days of the stated deadline, unless further application is made.

FEDERAL COURT STATUS

The United States courts are divided into the Supreme Court as the highest court; the Courts of Appeals as the intermediate appellate courts (comprised of twelve regional circuits and a thirteenth Federal Circuit); the District Courts as the trial courts (divided into 94 judicial districts); and various lesser trial and administrative courts (i.e., Bankruptcy Courts).

United States Supreme Court

Order, dated March 19, 2020

  • Deadline to file petitions for writ of certiorari extended to 150 days from date of lower court judgment or order.
  • Motions for extension of time will be granted as matter of course if related to COVID-19.
  • Clerk will entertain motions to delay distribution of petitions for writ of certiorari.

Oral arguments for March session are postponed.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Announcement, dated March 19, 2020

  • Regular-argued appeals and motions calendars continue to be heard as scheduled, but beginning March 23, 2020 oral arguments will be by teleconference.

United States District Courts

  • Western District of New York:

General Order, dated March 16, 2020Extends Alternative Dispute Resolution Deadlines by 60 days and forbids mediation at the courthouse for 60 days.

General Order, dated March 13, 2020: Continues all civil trials for 60 days, but allows consideration of motions not requiring oral argument or personal appearances.

  • Northern District of New York:

General Order, dated March 13, 2020: Continues all trials indefinitely, but allows consideration of motions not requiring oral argument or personal appearances. 

  • Southern District of New York:

Memorandum, dated March 20, 2020: Provides that civil case operations will proceed at the discretion of the individual judge, but that in-court appearances will be limited to emergency matters and should occur by videoconference.

  • Eastern District of New York:

Administrative Order 2020-06: Continues indefinitely all trials.


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