New York Courts Expand Virtual Operations To Non-Essential Matters.

April 7, 2020 | Brian L. Bank | Michael P. Versichelli | Michelle (Bholan) Klein | Catalina E. De La Hoz | Commercial Litigation


On April 8, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued Administrative Order AO/85/20 to promulgate the procedures and protocols in non-essential matters, which take effect on April 13, 2020. Although the order extends virtual operations to non-essential matters, no new non-essential matters may be filed until further notice. Nor may additional papers be filed by parties in pending non-essential matters.  The order can be read here.


On April 6, 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that the virtual operations currently in place to address essential and emergency matters will expand to include non-essential matters, effectively restoring many matters to the courts’ active calendars.  Specifically, Chief Judge DiFiore announced that a plan will be publicized in the coming days and implemented next week to expand the virtual operations beyond the limited category of essential and emergency matters outlined in Administrative Order 78/20, which was issued on March 22, 2020. A copy of the transcript of Chief Judge DiFiore’s April 6, 2020 video remarks may be accessed here.

The expansion of the virtual operations to non-essential or non-emergency matters is slated for next Monday, April 13th, and is both a result of the courts’ success with virtual operations in essential or emergency cases in the past week, and a response to the desire and need of, among others, lawyers and their clients to resume pending matters and have access to the courts, Chief Judge DiFiore said.

On the heels of Chief Judge DiFiore’s announcement, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued a Memorandum to all trial court justices and judges outlining the framework for the plan.  Although the details of the plan extending virtual operations to non-essential matters will be finalized by the various Administrative Judges next week, among other things the framework indicates that:

  • Judges will be reviewing their case inventories to identify cases in which court conferences can be helpful in advancing the progress or early resolution of a case;
  • Scheduling of compliance and settlement conferences will occur at the request of the court or attorneys;
  • Judges will be making themselves available during normal court hours to address discovery disputes and other ad hoc concerns;
  • All conferences will be conducted remotely by Skype or telephone; and
  • Judges and legal staff will work from home to examine and evaluate pending motions with the goal of issuing decisions on motions that are fully briefed and submitted.

Chief Administrative Judge Marks stated that going forward, the existing prohibition on the filing of new non-essential matters will continue.  The preliminary steps outlined above, however, are designed to begin the process of restoring “remote” access to the courts in non-essential pending cases.  Additional steps to restore operations in non-essential matters are expected in the weeks ahead.  Chief Administrative Judge Marks’ Memorandum may be accessed here.

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