- State Updates: New York
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State Updates: New York Court of Appeals, New York State Court System and New York City County Clerks
New York Court of Appeals Adopts Electronic Filing
On Monday May 11, 2020, the New York Court of Appeals (Court) issued a Notice to the Bar announcing rule changes intended to enhance the Court’s virtual operations, including a new requirement that motions and responses to jurisdictional inquiries must be submitted in digital format as companions to the printed papers. The amendments also reduce the number of printed copies that must be filed for civil motions for leave to appeal, for re-argument, and for papers in opposition to those motions.
Practitioners will have to submit the companion filings in digital format using the Companion Filing Upload Portal, similar to the Court-PASS system used to submit companion digital copies of briefs and record materials on appeals, certified questions, and judicial conduct matters.
The Rules of Practice of the Court of Appeals (Rules) have been also changed to provide that the Appellate Division documents required by Rule 500.22 (c), Rule 500.26 (b) (3) (iv), and 500.26 (b) (4) shall be filed in digital format only.
Motions submitted with proof of indigency may still be made on one set of papers. Parties can request to be relieved of the digital submission requirements based on a showing of undue hardship.
So, what does this mean? It means the Court has embraced, but not fully adopted, a digital filing system. Instead, the new digital filing system will run in conjunction with the paper filing requirements for a particular proceeding. The amended Rules are effective on May 27, 2020. Compliance with the new Rules is required for all filings. Any responses to Rule 500.10 jurisdictional inquiries requested on or after May 27, 2020, and any motions returnable on or after June 1, 2020, must comply with the amended Rules.
Be aware, the uploading of documents to the Companion Filing Upload Portal (CPLR) does not satisfy the service or filing requirements of the CPLR or the Court’s Rules. The filer is responsible for meeting any applicable CPLR time limit by serving and filing as provided by the CPLR. The filer is responsible for meeting the Court’s applicable due dates by filing the required number of paper documents with the Clerk’s Office.
New York State Court System Authorizes Phased Return to Courthouses
On March 13, 2020, the New York State court system announced the gradual return of judges and staff to courthouses in upstate counties that have met the Governor’s established safety benchmarks. For a list of the counties affected, click here.
The first phase will include courts in 30 upstate counties and begin on Monday, May 18, 2020. The courts in phase two will open on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
So, what does this mean? It’s back to business as normal in the affected courts; albeit with a few COVID-19 related changes held over from the state of emergency. For example, social distancing and other steps restricting courthouse traffic will be enforced to protect the health and safety of judges and staff, attorneys, litigants and members of the public. Non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse. All staff who interact with court visitors must wear a mask. Anyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask, with masks available for those who need one. Courtroom and other areas will be carefully marked to ensure proper physical distancing. Court facilities will be regularly sanitized. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout the courthouse. Acrylic barriers and other safety features will be installed in courthouse areas as needed.
Filers are reminded that even though the courts are open, new cases may be filed in these counties electronically. The plans in these jurisdictions will serve as a template for the return of judges and staff to courthouses in other counties of the State.
Five New York City Counties Announce Clerk of Courts May Resume Limited Processing
On May 13, 2020, the five County Clerks of the City of New York announced they will resume the processing of documents in two phases. The initial phase will entail the logging, prepping and sequential queuing of all documents received since the March 20th cessation of normal operations. This phase only affects the Clerk of the County duties and functions and no other department at this time. Upon completion of these efforts, which will vary in scope and time from county to county, the process of sequential docketing and filing will recommence at a pace dictated by limited staffing levels and mandates consistent with Executive and Administrative Orders. The physical offices will remain closed to public traffic. All submissions should continue to be made by mail until further notice.
So, what does this mean? Members who have filed documents with any of the County Clerks of New York City should expect movement from the County Clerk’s office in short order. However, the volume of backlog varies from country from county and there is no way to predict with any certainly how long it will take for the County Clerks to catch up. Consider also, this announcement does not affect any other department within the courts at this time.
RMAI COVID-19 Resources
RMAI’s Commitment to Consumers and FAQs. The communication is posted in the Resources for Businesses, Employers and Consumers section of the COVID-19 resource page as well as on the Consumers page of the RMAI website.