NY Court Operation Updates
by Ryan P. Pezzulo
Attorney at Trainor Law PLLC
Our firm has weathered the shutdown caused by COVID-19 and, as of June 3, 2020 we are open and proud to continue to serve our clients in the safest manner possible. The shutdown has caused uncertainty across the spectrum of areas in which we practice and this is evident especially in navigating the various NY Courts where we represent our clients. Within the past few weeks, New York Courts have released guidance on re-opening operations and resuming jury trials. In Saratoga County, the Courts are participating in a “pilot program” to allow for resuming jury trials in pending criminal matters. This is particularly important given the due process concerns associated with delays and the right to a “speedy trial” while weighing the importance of health and safety.
The Courts have also issued more detailed guidance regarding the eviction moratorium through October 1, 2020. Specifically, in any pending residential eviction matter that was filed prior to March 17, 2020, Courts must initiate a status or settlement conference regardless of what stage of the eviction process is in and even if a warrant of eviction has been issued. Courts are to review the procedural history of the matter and must weigh a number of factors, including whether the COVID-19 pandemic has affected parties and use best efforts (including referral to alternative dispute resolution) to resolve any outstanding issues. This allows the Courts to take steps as it deems appropriate to protect the rights of tenants but also move proceedings that have stagnated during the shutdown to conclusions. Notwithstanding these measures, evictions may not occur sooner than October 1, 2020 however, the proceedings can move forward.
In our experience, local NY Courts are addressing other civil matters and ongoing cases remotely which has helped with the backlog within the Court system and has allowed for us to continue to work for our clients within the new and evolving framework of legal practice during a pandemic. At our firm, we are striking a delicate balance of zealously advocating for our clients while maintaining and protecting the health and safety of our clients and community.