Late last week, the New York Unified Court System announced that all of the courts outside of New York City would move to "Phase 2" of the plan to gradually return to in-person operations.  This includes courts in the  Tenth Judicial District (Nassau and Suffolk counties) as well as courts in the Third (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties) and Ninth Judicial Districts (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties).

According to the announcement, the goal of Phase 2 is to "safely increase courthouse foot traffic in a gradual manner" so that the Court can prioritize matters that require an in-person appearance while "continuing to maximize virtual appearances."  Phase 2 includes the following plans:

  • Essential family matters will be conducted in-person and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental hygiene law proceedings pertaining to a hospitalized adult will be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Non-essential matters will continue to be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Mediation/alternate dispute resolution will be conducted virtually.

Phase 2 also includes steps to encourage physical distancing including "staggering case types, court calendars and courtroom use."

The announcement also made clear that "Phase 1" measures would still remain in place, which include:

  • Non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse. 
  • 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.

For more information, and the latest updates, be sure to monitor our COVID-19 Resources Page for New York Lawyers.