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COVID 19 Alert: Latest Developments Affecting the Courts, The Justice System, and O’Brien & Associates Law Firm Operations

June 29, 2020

The New York State Unified Court System announced that all courts outside New York City are now in phase three of a gradual return to in-person operations.

The goal of phase three is to gradually increase foot traffic in the courts and extend the types of proceedings that are heard in-person. Relative to family law matters, these proceedings include:

  • Child support proceedings
  • Essential Family Court matters which will continue to be heard in-person
  • A limited number of bench trials in civil matters

Judges will continue to expand use of virtual proceedings whenever legally permissible and logistically possible. Non-essential matters will be conducted virtually.

Judges and clerks will coordinate to ensure that court space is used to optimize safety and efficiency. There will be staggered scheduling of court appearances, court calendars and courtroom usage to limit the number of people in courthouses and ensure that no more than half of the courtrooms are being used at any given time.

During this third phase, non-judicial staffing levels will increase modestly to support necessary administrative court functions as well as to provide support for the moderate increase in foot traffic in the courthouse.

“To keep up our progress as we re-establish in-person courthouse operations across the state, we must proceed cautiously, remaining vigilant in following the new safety measures and operational protocols designed to protect the health of our judges, staff and court visitors,” said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.

Phase One measures that will remain in place to protect the health and safety of judges, staff and court visitors include:

  • Anyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask.
  • All staff who interact with court visitors must wear a mask.
  • Courthouse areas will be carefully marked to ensure proper physical distancing.
  • Court facilities will be regularly sanitized.
  • Installation of acrylic barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and other safety features in courthouse areas as needed.

Joanne P. Monagan, Esq
Principal Attorney/CEO