Update – What Happens to My Court Case During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

On March 15, 2020, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued a Memorandum outlining updated operational protocols for the trial courts of the New York State Unified Court System. The Memorandum provides that, effective 5:00 p.m. on March 16, 2020, all non-essential functions of the trial courts are postponed until further notice. The Memorandum, in its entirety, can be found at http://nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/Updated- Protocol-AttachmentA3.pdf.

On March 19, 2020, Judge Marks issued an Administrative Order implementing new procedures for civil litigation in an effort to mitigate the adverse effects of the Coronavirus outbreak. Pursuant to the Administrative Order, effective immediately, all pending civil matters (including discovery) that requires in-person appearances, travel, or other actions “inconsistent with prevailing health and safety directives” is strongly discouraged.

So, how does this new Administrative Order impact your civil court case? This new Administrative Order will have the greatest impact upon cases currently in the discovery stage.

Document production and the submission of responses to discovery demands may continue. On the other hand, in-person depositions are strongly discouraged. It should be noted that New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 3113(d) permits a witness’s deposition to be conducted by telephone or other remote electronic means so long as the parties agree to such method. However, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine whether such remote depositions are feasible or prudent.

If a party is unable to comply with discovery or other litigation deadlines (including dispositive motion deadlines) due to the Coronavirus, the Administrative Order encourages the parties to use best efforts to enter into an agreement or stipulation postponing such deadlines for a period not to exceed 90 days. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the resolution of the dispute will be deferred until the court can review the matter and issue appropriate directives.

The most significant development is, if a party is unable to comply with discovery deadlines due to the Coronavirus, the Administrative Order prevents the imposition of penalties upon the non-compliant party.

The Administrative Order, in its entirety, can be found at https://nysba.org/app/uploads/2020/03/AO-71.pdf.

If you are contacted by a governmental representative regarding a contract or restriction under the Act, or if you have any questions regarding this legal briefing, please contact any attorney in our Litigation Department at (585) 730-4773.

This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2020 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC


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